THE ALIEN TORT CLAIMS ACT
93
any of the clauses standard in modern-day legislation. As the Supreme
Court stated in
Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain
: “Despite considerable scholarly
attention, it is fair to say that a consensus understanding of what Congress
intended has proven elusive.
9
III. Subject-Matter Jurisdiction Under the ATCA
The
Kiobel
case reached the Supreme Court because of diametrically-
opposed views on the nature of the corporate liability question. On one
side, the plaintiffs argue that corporate liability is not even an issue of
subject-matter jurisdiction, but rather a question of the substantive reach
of the ATCA. Kiobel argues that, while the text of the ACTA limits the class
of permissible plaintiffs to “aliens”, the ACTA’s silence as to the types of
defendants allowed means that the type of defendant is irrelevant for es-
tablishing subject-matter jurisdiction. Nevertheless, Kiobel concedes that
the type of defendant is relevant for establishing the merits of an ATCA
claim
.
10
Royal Dutch Petroleum and Shell, on the other hand, argue that in order
for a defendant to be properly sued for violating international law under the
ATCA, the particular type of defendant must itself be liable under interna-
tional law
.
11
This is precisely the reasoning that the Eleventh Circuit use
d
12
9
Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain
,
.
10 See
Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co.
,
.
11 See
Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co.
,
.
12
Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co.
,
:
“insofar as
plaintiffs bring claims under the ATS against corporations, plaintiffs fail to allege vio-
lations of the laws of nations, and plaintiffs’ claims fall outside the limited jurisdiction
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