International attorney, international human rights attorneyThe SCOTUS blog recently held a symposium on Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum.  Kiobel is one of the most important cases that will be decided by the Supreme Court in the new term that begins October 1, 2012.

Lyle Dennison’s article, Kiobel: Made Simple,  is an excellent starting point for anyone wanting to learn more about the case.

I also wrote a prior article  over at the International Business Law Advisor and spoke about the case in a video discussion with Colin O’Keefe on the LXBN TV.

In a nutshell, the central  issue of the case concerns  the extraterritorial applicability of the Alien Tort Claims Act.

For human rights attorneys, the case has the potential to severely impact international human rights litigation in the U.S.

I mention this because there is an excellent article by Donald Childress on how the decision will fundamentally change human rights litigation.

In the article, A Brave New World of Transnational Human Rights Litigation, Childress offers several different ways a claim may potentially proceed in the U.S.:

Depending on what the Court holds, we may see a brave new world of transnational human rights litigation (1) in federal courts under state and foreign law, (2) in U.S. state courts under state and foreign law, and (3) in foreign courts under foreign law.

Childress then poses a series of questions that must be examined in considering the appropriate role of  international human rights litigation in U.S. courts:

 In what circumstances should state law reach transnational human rights claims?  Should preemption, due process, and related doctrines constrain the ability of plaintiffs to raise such claims under state law?  Should forum non conveniens be robustly applied when cases are filed under foreign law in the United States?  Should courts be concerned that forcing such cases to be filed abroad may bring these cases back to the United States in later enforcement of judgment proceedings where the U.S. court has only limited review?  Should Congress step in and resolve these issues?

While there are no easy answers, Childress offers an interesting glimpse  on “ how the Court’s decision might usher in a brave new world of transnational human rights litigation.”

What do you think?