Obama backs Shell in Supreme Court case

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Obama backs Shell in Supreme Court case

Postby Stella_Guru » Mon Sep 03, 2012 1:46 pm

The Obama administration has taken a 180 and now backs Shell Oil in a Supreme Court case that could make it more difficult for survivors of human rights abuses overseas to sue multinationals in federal courts.

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Re: Obama backs Shell in Supreme Court case

Postby pjbogart » Mon Sep 03, 2012 7:22 pm

That's pretty complicated stuff, Stella, and I'd be wary of having any knee-jerk reaction to it.

From the article I understand that injured parties are currently able to sue principles of corporations for human rights abuses overseas. There are two questions the Supreme Court seems to be asking. Can injured parties sue the corporation rather than the principles? If so, can injured parties sue the corporation when the corporation was cooperating with a sovereign foreign nation within that nation?

Consider a hypothetical. Imagine that Joe Smith, a principle for Royal Dutch Shell was working in conjunction with the Nigerian government and military to fight protesters who were sabotaging oil drilling equipment owned by Shell. Nigeria might not be so inclined to use their court system to deal with saboteurs. If you punch a hole in a pipeline you get a bullet in your head. That might not sit well with you, but you're not Nigerian and I'm not so sure that we want such cases clogging up our Federal docket.

And that seems to be essentially the government's argument:

U.S. courts “should not create a cause of action that challenges the actions of a foreign sovereign in its own territory, where the [sued party] is a foreign corporation of a third country that allegedly aided and abetted the foreign sovereign’s conduct,” the Justice Department wrote.

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