Human Rights Clinic Follows its Brief to Supreme Court

February 23, 2012

On Feb. 28, 2012, students in the Law School’s Human Rights Litigation and International Legal Advocacy Clinic will be in Washington, D.C., to observe the oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court in the controversial case of Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum. Prof. Jennifer Green, who heads the Clinic, is also traveling with her students to watch the oral argument and assist the plaintiffs’ lawyers in responding to media coverage of the case.

Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum involves claims by Nigerian plaintiffs that Royal Dutch Petroleum collaborated with the Nigerian government to detain, torture, and execute individuals who were lawfully protesting against oil exploration. The argument before the high court addresses the question of whether corporations can be sued for violations of international law under the Alien Tort Statute.

In December 2011, Prof. Green, Clinic Student Directors Feras Sleiman (‘12) and Britt Johnson (‘12), and Clinic student attorneys Dev Gowda (‘13), Michelle Lobo (‘13), Sam Manning (‘13), and Sara Mendoza (‘13) submitted an amici curiae brief in support of the plaintiffs.

The Clinic’s brief, which can be found at, discusses Nuremberg-era international trials in occupied Germany after World War II, highlights their importance to the development of international law norms, and interprets their jurisprudence as supporting the liability of corporations and other organizations for violations of international law. The Clinic seeks to ensure that corporations can be held accountable for human rights abuses in U.S. federal courts.

The students taking advantage of next week’s opportunity to observe the oral argument in the U.S. Supreme Court are the aforementioned Sleiman, Johnson, Lobo, and Manning, as well as other Clinic student attorneys Sharifa Tharpe (‘13) and Kelsey Kelley (‘13).

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