Kiobel Amici Curiae Brief of Law of Nations Scholars

41 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2012 Last revised: 14 Feb 2013

Date Written: June 11, 2012


The question presented is “whether and under what circumstances the Alien Tort Statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1350, allows courts to recognize a cause of action for violations of the law of nations occurring within the territory of a sovereign other than the United States.” In this Amicus Brief we argue from a historical perspective going back to the Middle Ages that when the law of nations is in issue, not only is there no presumption against extraterritoriality, but jurisdiction over causes of action arising abroad is in many cases required. More specifically, we argue that Congress affirmatively conferred universal jurisdiction in the Alien Tort Statute [“ATS”] under the law of nations, and that to refuse such jurisdiction in cases of denial of justice would be contrary to longstanding principles of the law of nations. In short, limiting the ATS to claims arising in U.S. territory would contravene both the statute’s clear indication of universal jurisdiction and the Charming Betsy canon of construction that statutes should not be construed to violate the law of nations.

Suggested Citation

Colangelo, Anthony J. and D'Amato, Anthony, Kiobel Amici Curiae Brief of Law of Nations Scholars (June 11, 2012). Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 12-18, SMU Dedman School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 117, Available at SSRN: or

Anthony J. Colangelo (Contact Author)

Southern Methodist University - Dedman School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 750116
Dallas, TX 75275
United States
2147682372 (Phone)

Anthony D'Amato

Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

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