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Anthony J. Bellia

2016

Jurisdiction

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The Alien Tort Statute And The Law Of Nations, Bradford R. Clark, Anthony J. Bellia Aug 2016

The Alien Tort Statute And The Law Of Nations, Bradford R. Clark, Anthony J. Bellia

Anthony J. Bellia

Courts and scholars have struggled to identify the original meaning of the Alien Tort Statute (ATS). As enacted in 1789, the ATS provided "[t]hat the district courts...shall...have cognizance...of all causes where an alien sues for tort only in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States." The statute was rarely invoked for almost two centuries. In the 1980s, lower federal courts began reading the statute expansively to allow foreign citizens to sue other foreign citizens for all violations of modern customary international law that occurred outside the United States. In 2004, the Supreme Court took …