Associate Dean for Research and Professor of Law William S. Dodge is uniquely poised to offer commentary on the Supreme Court case Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, the decision for which was handed down April 17. Professor Dodge served as the Counselor on International Law to the Legal Adviser at the U.S. Department of State, where he worked on the Kiobel case for the U.S. government.
"The court's sweeping decision brings an era of human rights litigation to a close," says Professor Dodge, "but Filartiga's legacy lives on."
Residents of the Ogoni region of Nigeria brought suit against Royal Dutch Petroleum alleging that the oil company aided and abetted violations of international human rights law by the Nigerian government, including torture, extrajudicial killings, and crimes against humanity. The case was filed in federal district court under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS). The Supreme Court originally granted review in Kiobel to decide whether a corporation, as opposed to a person, can be held liable for international human rights violations under the ATS, but has since broadened the question to address whether suits may be brought under the ATS for violations of international law in a foreign country.
Professor Dodge is one of the country’s leading experts on the history and doctrine of the Alien Tort Statute. In Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain, the Supreme Court expressly adopted the position of the amicus brief he wrote on behalf of professors of federal jurisdiction and legal history. Professor Dodge served as a law clerk for Justice Harry A. Blackmun of the U.S. Supreme Court. His coedited book International Law in the U.S. Supreme Court: Continuity and Change (Cambridge University Press 2011) won the American Society of International Law’s 2012 certificate of merit.
Inquiries should be directed to Ami Dodson, firstname.lastname@example.org, 415.565.4832.