The Supreme Court said Monday that it will consider whether American courts can hear lawsuits alleging human rights atrocities that were committed overseas without a direct U.S. connection.
During a case invoking the 1789 "Alien Tort Statute" - which laid dormant for two centuries until liberal human rights activists resurrected the arcane law in an attempt to punish corporations viewed as contributing to foreign atrocities - the Supreme Court surprisingly decided to expand the question before the court and entertain whether anyone at all, regardless of ties to the U.S., may be sued in an American court.
Conservatives are rightly skeptical of such broad powers.
"This case was filed by 12 Nigerian plaintiffs who alleged that respondents aided and abetted the human rights violations committed against them by the [Sani] Abacha dictatorship in Nigeria," Alito said, quoting from a brief from the Nigerians.
Alito then asked their attorney, Paul Hoffman: "What business does a case like that have in the courts of the United States? There's no connection to the United States whatsoever."
Similarly, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy quoted from a brief submitted by corporations supporting the defendants: "No other nation in the world permits its court to exercise universal civil jurisdiction over alleged extraterritorial human rights abuses to which the nation has no connection."
Bear in mind that this same basic claim of "universal jurisdiction" was invoked by foreign liberals in an effort to have George W. Bush, the sitting president of the United States, among other conservative leaders, apprehended for war crimes and tried in foreign courts. Universal jurisdiction is the coveted prize of the liberal international community, which seeks to consolidate all power (including judicial power) within its enlightened hands.
President Obama, naturally, supports the theory. While liberals applaud the concept when applied to Bush and Co., I wonder if their excitement would persist if Obama were imprisoned by, say, Malta for crimes against humanity for his promotion of mass-murder through abortion funding. I think not. Luckily, oppression and harassment from the international elite is a one way street - and liberals are never at the receiving end.
If SCOTUS does decide it has universal jurisdiction, Congress should take it away from them via legislative restriction on what they can hear. That is the
Constitutional right of Congress.