WASHINGTON — The question before the Supreme Court on Tuesday was whether lawsuits against corporations for some kinds of human rights violations are categorically forbidden.
Some of the justices were themselves in a categorical mood, announcing not only their answer to that question but also to a larger one not squarely before them. They did so by quoting approvingly or skeptically from the briefs in the case.
“For me, the case turns in large part on this,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said and then quoted a sentence from a brief filed by the Royal Dutch Petroleum Company, which is accused of complicity in human rights violations in Nigeria: “International law does not recognize corporate responsibility for the alleged offenses here.”
Justice Kennedy went on to quote from a brief supporting the companies filed by the Chevron Corporation: “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.”
Later, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. read back most of a sentence in the plaintiffs’ brief to their lawyer, calling it “really striking.”
“This case was filed by 12 Nigerian plaintiffs who alleged that respondents aided and abetted the human rights violations committed against them by the Abacha dictatorship in Nigeria,” Justice Alito said, quoting.
Then he asked: “What business does a case like that have in the courts of the United States? There’s no connection to the United States whatsoever.”
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg tried to return the discussion to the narrower question: not whether United States courts can hear human rights cases over events that took place abroad, but whether corporations may be sued in such cases ...Zum vollständigen Artikel