SCOTUS Hears Oral Arguments in Three Cases
In its second week of oral arguments, the U.S. Supreme Court considered three cases. The most notable was Jesner v. Arab Bank, PLC. The case will determine whether corporations can be held liable for violations under the Alien Tort Statute, which states that U.S. courts shall have jurisdiction over any civil lawsuit “by an alien for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.” The relatively unknown law gained prominence in the 1980s when it began being used to pursue human rights violations overseas.
Below is a brief summary of the issues before the Court:
Hamer v. Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago: The case involves a technical issue regarding the deadline for filing an appeal, which has divided the circuit courts of appeal. The specific question that the justices must decide is: “Whether Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(a)(5)(C) can deprive a court of appeals of jurisdiction over an appeal that is statutorily timely, as the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 2nd, 4th, 7th and 10th Circuits have concluded, or whether Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(a)(5)(C) is instead a nonjurisdictional claim-processing rule because it is not derived from a statute, as the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 9th and District of Columbia Circuits have concluded, and therefore subject to equitable considerations such as forfeiture, waiver and the unique-circumstances doctrine.”
Jesner v. Arab Bank, PLC: The question presented in the case — whether the Alien Tort Statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1350, categorically forecloses corporate liability — is not new to most of the justices. In Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., 133 S. Ct. 1659 (2013), the Court granted certiorari to consider whether the Alien Tort Statute authorizes lawsuits against corporations. However, the Court never reached the corporate liability question because it resolved that case based on extraterritoriality grounds. Based on oral arguments, we should get a definitive answer this time around.
National Association of Manufacturers v. Department of Defense: The case involves where plaintiffs must file lawsuits challenging the Clean Water Act. The justices will specifically answer the following question: “Whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit erred when it held that it has jurisdiction under 33 U.S.C. § 1369(b)(1)(F), the portion of the Clean Water Act’s judicial review provision that requires that agency actions ‘in issuing or denying any permit’ under Section 1342 be reviewed by the court of appeals, to decide petitions to review the waters-of-the-United-States rule, even though the rule does not ‘issu[e] or den[y] any permit’ but instead defines the waters that fall within Clean Water Act jurisdiction.
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Congress of the United States begun and held at the City of New-York, on Wednesday the fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.
THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.