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Supreme Court hears arguments on Clean Water Act, Alien Tort Statute

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] heard oral arguments Wednesday in National Association of Manufacturers v. Department of Defense and Jesner v. Arab Bank, PLC [transcripts, PDF].

National Association of Manufacturers v. Department of Defense [SCOTUSblog materials] is focused on the question of the Clean Water Act's [EPA backgrounder] judicial review provision. The government argues that the scope of 33 USC ยง 1369(b)(1) [ext] and its seven actions which are reviewable directly to the court of appeals do apply to this case as it falls under either Subsection (E) or Subsection (F) of the act.

Oral arguments drew criticism to both sides of the argument in this case. Justices questioned the US government on their textual argument that limitations and "under" should have a wide reach to send many matters to the appellate courts. Petitioners faced strong questions on the feasibility and applicability in the court system.

Jesner v. Arab Bank, PLC [SCOTUSblog materials] focuses on whether corporations can be held liable under the Alien Tort Statute [text] for violations in international law. Plaintiffs, victims of terrorist attacks, wish to hold terrorists accountable for giving millions to families of suicide bombers.

During oral arguments, many justices were concerned with potential backlash for foreign countries if the US would allow cases such as this to be litigated. But there were also questions about how one could argue that financing terrorism is not a violation of international law or that corporations should not be liable.

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