Jesner v. Arab Bank and the Original Meaning of the Alien Tort Statute

Today the Supreme Court hears argument in Jesner v. Arab Bank, in which plaintiffs seek to use the so-called Alien Tort Statute (ATS) as the basis to impose liability on Arab Bank, a Jordanian entity, for allegedly giving financial support to Hamas’ terrorist operations in Israel and the Palestinian territories.  The ATS provides federal court jurisdiction over “any civil action by an alien for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.”  The question is whether this statute applies to the claim against Arab Bank; I joined an amicus brief, authored by Professor Samuel Estreicher (NYU) on behalf of professors of foreign relations law, saying it does not.

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