“Thus re-framed, the Kiobel case has the potential to substantially redefine prevailing understandings about how open the U.S. courts are to claims under international law.” Cornell University Law School Professor Michael Dorf, blogging about one of the cases argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on the first day of its new term. Involving an interpretation of the Alien Tort Statute, the plaintiffs in Kiobel initially asked the court whether the law authorized suits against corporate defendants, but the Court directed re-argument to address whether the law allows U.S. courts to hear cases involving violations of the law of nations occurring outside the United States. Dorf suggests that a court majority could go so far as to determine that the statute does not confer substantive rights to sue and thus to preclude federal courts from converting international law norms into domestic federal common law.

Dorf on Law, October 1, 2012.