As my dear friend Tony Arend observes, the Supreme Court will hear a case this week raising the extent to which US courts are an appropriate forum for foreign plaintiffs to sue foreign defendants over alleged human rights violations that took place (if at all) outside the United States. Tony's post has links to all the pertinent documents.
I come down in more or less the same place as the WSJ. Because the "plaintiffs are Nigerians who allege that a European company arranged with Nigerian authorities to quell protests against oil drilling in Nigeria," one is constrained to ask: "Why is this in an American court?" The short answer is that it shouldn't be:
So who's pushing this imperialistic concept of U.S. legal jurisdiction? You have the usual suspects in the left-wing human-rights crowd, who are happy to see corporations tied up anywhere, anytime, for any reason. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have submitted a brief on behalf of the Kiobel plaintiffs. News flash: Almost all serious rights violations are committed by governments, not corporations.
Then there are the trial lawyers, who see the potential for big paydays. This is the U.S. lawsuit industry going global, and you can imagine the diplomatic complications if American courts become the venue for all of the world's human-rights activists. Imagine, too, the risks for U.S. companies if other nations choose to retaliate.
Where CJ Roberts comes down on this case may be a good signal of whether his liberal- and MSM-pleasing decision in the Obamacare legislation was a one-time aberration or a signal that he's permanently lost his senses and become another victim of the Greenhouse effect.