Human rights litigation under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) has increased dramatically in the past few decades. Due to actions of a host of players around the world, this struggle for rights and remedies is dependent upon the rules of domestic court systems. Within U.S. civil litigation, two key lines of precedent affect human rights cases: the Supreme Court’s only sustained review of ATS subject-matter jurisdiction in Sosa and its introduction of the plausibility standard of pleading in Twombly–Iqbal. Considering courts’ initial applications of Twombly–Iqbal to motions to dismiss ATS cases, it becomes clear that courts do not consistently apply Sosa to questions of ATS jurisdiction. This confusion leads to two errors. First, courts do not always distinguish between motions challenging subject-matter jurisdiction and those challenging sufficiency of factual pleadings. Second, the conflation of these two types of motions leads some courts to improperly apply the standard of review of the latter (the Twombly–Iqbal plausibility standard) when hearing motions challenging the former (the Sosa standard for ATS subject-matter jurisdiction). The Note argues that courts should distinguish between types of motions and their attendant standards of review and properly apply each in their respective spheres. Based on both legal and policy analysis, the Note concludes that the appropriately limited application of the Twombly–Iqbal plausibility standard should not have major implications for human rights litigation under Sosa.
Volume 95 - No. 6
- Note: Copyrighted Laws: Enabling and Preserving Access to Incorporated Private Standards
- Note: Embracing Ambiguity and Adopting Propriety: Using Comparative Law To Explore Avenues for Protecting the LGBT Population Under Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
- Note: Getting Back to Basics: Recognizing and Understanding the Swing Voter on the Supreme Court of the United States
- The Value of the Standard
- The Substantially Impaired Sex: Uncovering the Gendered Nature of Disability Discrimination
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