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Corporate Rights and Human Rights

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum over whether corporations can be sued for human rights violations overseas. The plaintiffs filed suit in the United States under the Alien Tort Statute, a law enacted by Congress in 1789, that empowers the federal courts to hear cases by foreigners bringing a civil suit for wrongs committed “in violation of the law of nations.”

Should the Alien Tort Statute hold corporations liable for heinous crimes? Is there a more effective way to do this?


A Permissable and Effective Way

Oona A. Hathaway, Yale Law School: There is no need to fear that a ruling in favor of the plaintiffs in Kiobel will flood the courts with lawsuits.

It’s Up to Congress to Decide

Ilya Shapiro, Cato Institute: If we want to punish corporations for human rights abuses, then we must ask Congress to amend the Alien Tort Statute.

The Right Thing To Do

Vincent Warren, Center for Constitutional Rights: Through Citizens United we gave corporations extensive rights, now we must enforce their responsibilities.

Liability for Harms

Susan Farbstein and Tyler Giannini, Harvard Law School: Corporations should not receive greater legal protections than people.


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