U.S. Supreme Court

Case Status


Docket Number



Cert. Denied


Questions Presented

1. Whether, in light of the opposition to this litigation expressed by the Executive Branch, by South Africa, [**6] and by other nations -- because plaintiffs' suits effectively seek to overturn South Africa's postapartheid policy of reconciliation as well as the policies of the United States and other nations -- the cases should be dismissed on grounds of case-specific deference to the political branches, political question, or international comity.

2. Whether a private defendant may be sued under the ATS for aiding and abetting a violation of international law by a foreign government in its own territory.

3. Whether a private defendant may be held directly liable under the ATS for violating international law standards codified in a ratified treaty that Congress expressly provided does not create enforceable rights.

Case Updates

Review denied due to lack of quorum

May 12, 2008

As a result of the recusal of four of the Justices, the Supreme Court lacked a quorum and could neither grant nor deny review of this case.

U.S. Chamber urges Supreme Court to review aiding and abetting liability under the Alien Tort Statute

February 11, 2008

NCLC urged the Supreme Court to grant review of the Second Circuit’s erroneous decision to permit plaintiffs to hold liable—via the Alien Tort Statute—dozens of leading American and foreign companies for aiding and abetting South African apartheid. During the 1980s, the political branches of the United States government settled on a policy of constructive engagement with South Africa in the hopes of spurring on political change. This lawsuit contravenes that policy and further undermines the South African government’s own efforts at reconciliation. Underscoring the lack of clarity for American business engaged in foreign trade, NCLC made clear that whether the Alien Tort Statute provides for aiding and abetting liability is vitally important to the American business community and therefore deserves immediate review.

Case Documents