Editorial Note: This morning the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch-Shell, a case which we have blogged about extensively over the past 18 months. Several of our staff members were in attendence, and four of them wrote brief initial impressions. This is one of those four.
It was an amazing experience to sit at the Kiobel argument with Katie Redford, who pioneered the legal theory behind corporate ATS litigation, to my left, and Charles Wiwa, whose uncle’s experience at the hands of Shell exemplifies the need for corporate human rights liability, directly behind me.
After watching the nine justices in action today, I’m not sure I have any insight into which way the decision will ultimately go. I can only hope a majority sees this case for what it means to the Wiwa family, the ERI crew, and all the other victims of corporate abuses — a question of whether companies have been granted immunity from general liability rules for the worst crimes imaginable.