Enemy of Mankind
Should the U.S. Supreme Court be the court of the world? In the 18th century, two feuding Frenchmen inspired a one-sentence law that helped launch American human rights litigation into the 20th century. The Alien Tort Statute allowed a Paraguayan woman to find justice for a terrible crime committed in her homeland. But as America reached further and further out into the world, the court was forced to confront the contradictions in our country’s ideology: sympathy vs. sovereignty. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Jesner v. Arab Bank, a case that could reshape the way America responds to human rights abuses abroad. Does the A.T.S. secure human rights or is it a dangerous overreach?
The key voices:
- Ken Saro-Wiwa Jr., son of activist Ken Saro-Wiwa Sr.
- Dolly Filártiga, sister of Joelito Filártiga
- Paloma Calles, daughter of Dolly Filártiga
- Peter Weiss, lawyer at the Center for Constitutional Rights who represented Dolly Filártiga in Filártiga v. Peña-Irala
- Katherine Gallagher, lawyer at the Center for Constitutional Rights
- Paul Hoffman, lawyer who represented Kiobel in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum
- John Bellinger, former legal adviser for the U.S. Department of State and the National Security Council
- William Casto, professor at Texas Tech University School of Law
- Eric Posner, professor at University of Chicago Law School
- Samuel Moyn, professor at Yale University
- René Horst, professor at Appalachian State University
The key cases:
The key links:
Additional music for this episode by Nicolas Carter.
Special thanks to William J. Aceves, William Baude, Diego Calles, Alana Casanova-Burgess, William Dodge, Susan Farbstein, Jeffery Fisher, Joanne Freeman, Julian Ku, Nicholas Rosenkranz, Susan Simpson, Emily Vinson, Benjamin Wittes and Jamison York. Ken Saro-Wiwa Jr., who appears in this episode, passed away in October 2016.
Leadership support for More Perfect is provided by The Joyce Foundation. Additional funding is provided by The Charles Evans Hughes Memorial Foundation.
Supreme Court archival audio comes from Oyez®, a free law project in collaboration with the Legal Information Institute at Cornell.