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Kiobel v. Shell: Will ‘Enemies of All Mankind’ Be Held Accountable?

“The plaintiffs in Kiobel are members of Nigeria’s Ogoni people, who claim that Shell violated the law of nations (now referred to as international law) when it helped dispatch killing and torture squads to put down their protests against polluting oil fields.”

By Ryan Mitchell

Could five unelected individuals be all it takes to undo a major, 2-century-old U.S. commitment to advance the rule of law? If they wear the right robes, the answer is yes.

The Supreme Court opened its new term on Monday morning with a second round of oral arguments in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum (Shell). The court’s nine justices will decide by majority whether to reduce the scope of the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), a 1789 law passed by the First Congress, which makes punishable violations of the “law of nations,” and grants non-U.S. citizens the right to bring related civil lawsuits. 

The plaintiffs in Kiobel are members of Nigeria’s Ogoni people, who claim that Shell violated the law of nations (now referred to as international law) when it helped dispatch killing and torture squads to put down their protests against polluting oil fields.

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