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27 Feb 2012

Julian Ku, Hofstra University School of Law in Point of Law

The unattractive argument against corporate liability under the Alien Tort Statute

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Thanks to Point of Law for inviting me to share my thoughts on the Supreme Court's consideration of the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum. I will use two recent op-eds…to launch our discussion…In the NYT, Peter Weiss…focuses on the importance of the ATS in holding human rights offenders accountable and the general unfairness of excluding corporations from ATS lawsuits. In the Washington Post,…John Bellinger, argues that ATS lawsuits are being used to harass corporations into settlements, to interfere with other nation's domestic affairs, and to embroil the United States in disputes with important foreign allies…I think Bellinger has a very strong argument (I have joined an amicus brief in this case making very similar arguments) and I haven't seen the petitioners…make a very persuasive response to it…But it is also noteworthy that Bellinger does not respond to Weiss' claim about the unfairness of excluding corporations.