19 February, 2021

Author: Fernando C. Saldivar, S.J.

Publication Type: Paper

Country: Kenya


Fernando C. Saldivar, “A Wicked Impunity: Will the Supreme Court Gut the Alien Tort Statute?,” Commonweal 148, no. 4 (April 2021), https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/wicked-impunity.


On December 1, 2020, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the consolidated cases of Nestlé USA, Inc. v. Doe I and Cargill, Inc. v. Doe I. Depending on how the court rules, these cases could mark the end of the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) as a means of holding corporations accountable in U.S. federal courts for human-rights abuses committed abroad. For victims of such abuses, particularly those in Africa, ATS has, until now, provided an opportunity to seek relief in the only jurisdiction where they can obtain an enforceable judgment, and where such a judgment is most likely to influence the future behavior of the offending corporations and their shareholders. While much of the world’s attention was focused last fall on whether the Supreme Court would find a way to meddle in the U.S. presidential election, human-rights lawyers and activists were paying close and anxious attention to the Nestlé and Cargill cases.