Tuesday, June 1, 2010

SCOTUS and the ATS: June 1, 2010

Samantar v. Yousuf, No. 08–1555. Argued March 3, 2010—Decided June 1, 2010

Held: The FSIA does not govern petitioner’s claim of immunity.  (See UPI story)
Respondents, who were persecuted by the Somali government during the 1980’s, filed a damages action alleging that petitioner, who then held high level government positions, exercised command and control over the military forces committing the abuses; that he knew orshould have known of these acts; and that he aided and abetted in their commission. The District Court concluded that it lacked sub-ject-matter jurisdiction and granted petitioner’s motion to dismiss the suit, resting its decision on the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of1976 (FSIA or Act), which provides that a “foreign state shall be im-mune from the jurisdiction” of both federal and state courts except asprovided in the Act, 28 U. S. C. §1604. The Fourth Circuit reversed, holding that the FSIA does not apply to officials of a foreign state.  More...

STEVENS, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and KENNEDY, GINSBURG, BREYER, ALITO, and SOTOMAYOR, JJ., joined. ALITO, J., filed a concurring opinion. THOMAS, J., filed an opin-ion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment. SCALIA, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment.