Alien torts in America's courts
Is it wise to allow foreign victims of human rights violations that take place outside the United States to sue their persecutors in U.S. courts? That question loomed over arguments in the Supreme Court last week in a case involving allegations that Shell Oil Co., a British-Dutch company, colluded in violent attacks on Nigerians opposed to oil drilling in that country…But the issue before the court isn't whether such lawsuits are a good idea…It's whether they were authorized by Congress in a 1789 law known as the Alien Tort Statute. The answer to that question is yes, and that is how the court should rule. If Congress in the future concludes that American courts are being burdened by human rights lawsuits originating abroad — or that such suits complicate U.S. foreign policy — it can revise or repeal the law.