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Hastings Alumni Mag-Fall 2013

{ engaged scholarship } say and write will affect courts and legislatures. Legal scholars need to ask themselves: Is it intelligible? Is it useful? It’s very important to be realistic and concrete.” International Law in U.S. Courts Dodge, an expert in international law, played a key role in a case decided by the Supreme Court in 2004. In Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain, the justices confronted a case brought under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), an old jurisdictional provision that since 1980 had been used to bring international human rights cases in U.S. courts. “I had done a lot of historical work on the ATS,” Dodge says, “so I decided to write an amicus brief, relying on my own work and that of other scholars, to put the statute in historical context.” The question in Sosa was whether human rights suits under the ATS required a statutory cause of action. The Supreme Court rejected the positions of both parties and instead agreed expressly with Dodge’s argument that the ATS was enacted on the understanding that the common law would provide the course of action. Justice Souter also cited one of Dodge’s law review articles, “The Constitutionality of the Alien Tort Statute: Some Observations on Text and Context,” published in the Virginia Journal of International Law in 2002. “I thought, ‘My God, somebody’s listening,’” Dodge says. “It was very gratifying.” In another human rights case at the Supreme Court, Professor Chimène Keitner wrote an amicus brief on behalf of a group of international law professors, which was later published in a law review. The brief argued that international law does not provide blanket immunity to foreign officials who commit human rights violations. The court followed the approach recommended in the brief, interpreting the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act not to apply to foreign officials and leaving the remaining common law issues to the lower courts. On remand, the Fourth Circuit adopted Keitner’s position, citing two of her articles in the process. “Chimène Keitner is one of the leading experts on foreign official immunity in the country,” notes Dodge, “so it is no surprise that courts look to her work.” Keitner says, “I was glad they found the analysis useful. The mere fact of citation is not as important as making a contribution.” Professor David Faigman Professor Chimène Keitner 14 FALL 2013


Hastings Alumni Mag-Fall 2013
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