Supreme Court appears to back corporations in torture cases
Conservative justices indicate that multinational firms and political groups should be shielded from lawsuits in the U.S. over atrocities overseas.
By David G. Savage, Washington Bureau
February 28, 2012, 6:55 p.m.
Reporting from Washington— The Supreme Court's conservative justices said they were inclined to shield multinational corporations as well as political groups such as the Palestine Liberation Organization from being sued in this country for torture or other atrocities around the world.
At issue is whether human rights lawsuits can target not just torturers and tyrants but the corporations and political groups that support them.
Though several liberal justices said they saw no reason to limit such lawsuits, the court's conservatives said they were skeptical of allowing American courts to become the world's forum for overseas violations of international law.
Corporations are sued every day in this country and accused of violating state or federal laws. But Justices Anthony M. Kennedy and Samuel A. Alito Jr. said it was quite different to permit suits here based on allegations that a multinational corporation conspired with a brutal regime in Africa or Asia.