U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Court Takes on Another Broad Controversy, Orders Alien Tort Rearguments


The U.S. Supreme Court plans to take a look at a broader question in a suit seeking to hold oil companies accountable for alleged human rights violations in Nigeria.

The original issue in the case was whether corporations can be sued for human rights violations under the Alien Tort Statute, according to the New York Times, The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times, the Washington Post and SCOTUSblog.

The justices heard arguments on the original issue just last week. On Monday, the court ordered reargument on a broader issue: whether U.S. courts can hear claims for international law violations that occur outside the United States.

SCOTUSblog sees the development as indicative of a trend. “The new order was another, vivid illustration of the tendency of the ‘Roberts Court’ to take on the broadest kind of controversy in cases brought to it,” the blog says. “The current term of the court is quite literally filled with cases of a broad sweep, including the constitutionality of the new federal health care law and the power of states to restrict the activities within their borders of undocumented immigrants.”

The case is Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum.

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