Adam Liptak of the New York Times is reporting that the United States Supreme Court ruled that Nigerians would not be able to sue foreign oil companies for human rights abuses under U.S. law. The justices voted unanimously that a 1789 law addressing human rights abuses abroad could not be applied in this situation, causing human rights groups to call the decision a dangerous new precedent.
“This decision so severely limited a law that has for decades been a beacon of hope for victims of gross human rights violations,” said Elisa Massimino, president of Human Rights First. “This decision cuts a hole into the web of accountability. Human rights abusers may be rejoicing today, but this is a major setback for their victims.”
Business groups said the ruling would help put an end to baseless lawsuits.
“The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision today ensures that trial lawyers cannot continue to use the American judicial system to expose global businesses to frivolous and costly lawsuits,” said Thomas J. Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the majority, said a general presumption against the extraterritorial application of American law barred the suit.
Read more at New York Times.
This news brief was written by Kaitlin Higgins, editorial assistant for The Burton Wire.