On October 1, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum. The case involves the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), which permits non-U.S. citizens to bring a lawsuit in federal court in order to seek relief for certain violations of international law.
This case was first argued February 28, 2012, and considered whether corporations, and not merely individuals, can be held liable in an ATS lawsuit, and whether that issue affects the jurisdiction of the court even to hear the case. On March 5, 2012, however, the Supreme Court put the Kiobel case back on the calendar for re-argument, and directed the parties to brief an additional question--whether and under what circumstances the ATS allows courts to address violations of the law of nations that occur outside the United States.
To discuss the case, we have Eugene Kontorovich, a professor at the Northwestern University School of Law.