Debating Sosa in Ali Shafi v. Palestinian Authority

Today the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of several claims filed against the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) under the Alien Tort Statute. Chief Judge Sentelle wrote the opinion for the Court, and summarized the case as follows:

Appellant Ali Mahmud Ali Shafi and his wife, Shirin Ali Shafi, filed this action against the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), seeking to recover damages under the Alien Tort Statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1350. The Shafis alleged in the district court and argued before us that the torture and “physical and mental abuse” of Ali Shafi is actionable under that statute, and also claimed on behalf of their minor child a derivative negligence claim under Israeli law. The district court dismissed the actions for failure to state a claim within the jurisdiction conferred by the ATS. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm the judgment of the district court and further conclude that the district court did not err in declining to exercise pendent jurisdiction over the alleged negligence claim under Israeli law.

Of particular interest, both of the other judges on the panel — Judge Rogers and Senior Judge Williams — wrote separate concurring opinions addressing the scope of the ATS and the Supreme Court’s decision in Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain, and the relevance of the Supreme Court’s references to Blackstone therein.