On June 3, 2019, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed decades-old claims filed by human rights activists against a multinational corporation under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS). The decision was a victory for WLF, which filed an amicus curiae brief urging dismissal. The court agreed with WLF that Congress adopted the ATS in 1789 as a means of reducing the risks of diplomatic strife, and that ATS suits are impermissible when, as here, the suits are likely to increase strife between the United States and a foreign government. Exxon is accused of “aiding and abetting” human rights violations by the Indonesian government. Indonesia (which has not been sued) has repeatedly objected to the suit because it requires an American court to pass judgment on a foreign government’s treatment of its own citizens. The court held that it is up to Congress, not the courts, to decide whether to permit ATS suits that are so likely to cause diplomatic strife—and Congress has not done so.
WLF has participated in the this case since 2010.