When AMK Asks, SCOTUS Responds

March 5th, 2012

Last week during oral arguments in Kobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, Justice Kennedy asked right off the bat:

JUSTICE KENNEDY: But, counsel, for me, the case turns in large part on this: page 17 of the red brief. It says, “International law does not recognize corporate responsibility for the alleged offenses here.”
And the — one of the — the amicus brief for Chevron says, “No other nation in the world permits its court to exercise universal civil jurisdiction over  alleged extraterritorial human rights abuses to which the nation has no connection.”

And in reading through the briefs, I was trying to find the best authority you have to refute that proposition, or are you going to say that that proposition is irrelevant?

Today, the Court ordered Kiobel to be re-argued, with this question presented:

“Whether and under what circumstances the Alien Tort Statute, 28 U.S.C. §1350, allows courts to recognize a cause of action for violations of the law of nations occurring within the territory of a sovereign other than the United States.”

Just the question AMK asked–and did not receive a suitable answer.

Last time they did this was Citizens United, where they expanded the question presented. And we know how that turned out.