During the first day of its new term, the U.S. Supreme Court heard a second round of arguments in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., No. 10-1491 (U.S., restored to the calendar for reargument March 5, 2012). The parties had been directed to address “Whether and under what circumstances the Alien Tort Statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1350, allows courts to recognize a cause of action for violations of the law of nations occurring within the territory of a sovereign other than the United States.”
According to court observers, the Court’s more liberal wing, including Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan, appeared to favor allowing at least some claims under the statute for incidents involving foreign litigants occurring outside the United States, while the more conservative wing, that is, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito, seemed inclined to favor a more restrictive view. Justice Clarence Thomas did not apparently speak during re-argument, and Justice Anthony Kennedy’s position was difficult to ascertain. Additional information about the case appears in the October 27, 2011, issue of this Report. See Law 360, October 1, 2012.