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Article
No Longer Little Known But Now a Door Ajar: An Overview of the Evolving and Dangerous Role of the Alien Tort Statute in Human Rights and International Law Jurisprudence
Chapman Law Review (2005)
  • Donald J. Kochan
Abstract
Human rights’ and other international law activists have long worked to add teeth to their tasks. One of the most interesting avenues for such enforcement has been the Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”). The ATS has become the primary vehicle for injecting international norms and human rights into United States courts – against nation-states, state actors, and even private individuals or corporations alleged to actually or in complicity or conspiracy been responsible for supposed violations of international law. This Symposium Article provides an overview of the ATS evolution (or revolution), discusses the most recent significant development in the evolution arising from some long-awaited guidance from the U.S. Supreme Court, and briefly sets forth the bases for concern that injecting international law into United States jurisprudence presents a number of dangers – on constitutional, legal, policy, and economic grounds. Whether recent developments at the U.S. Supreme Court have curbed the procession of the ATS human rights revolution or simply added further indeterminacy into its progression is still up for debate. There are several problems with this trend toward enforceability and applicability of “customary international law” or otherwise “foreign” law in U.S. courts. The litigation trend has infirmities related to the Constitution, foreign policy, national security, and the public policies supporting economic development and its concomitant effect on the advance of democracy and political liberty. The principal goal of this Symposium Article is to reexamine some of these concerns in light of the ongoing ATS evolution. Only Congress or more concrete guidance from the U.S. Supreme Court can truly define the ATS’s future. Where the ATS door will swing in the future remains uncertain.
Keywords
  • alien tort,
  • sosa,
  • international law,
  • CIL,
  • human rights,
  • jurisdiction,
  • foreign law,
  • development,
  • human rights
Publication Date
2005
Citation Information
Donald J. Kochan. "No Longer Little Known But Now a Door Ajar: An Overview of the Evolving and Dangerous Role of the Alien Tort Statute in Human Rights and International Law Jurisprudence" Chapman Law Review Vol. 8 Iss. 1 (2005)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/donald_kochan/7/