Enemy of Mankind

October 23, 2017
Radiolab Presents: More Perfect

Should the U.S. Supreme Court be the court of the world? In the 18th century, two feuding Frenchmen inspired a one-sentence law that helped launch American human rights litigation into the 20th century. The Alien Tort Statute allowed a Paraguayan woman to find justice for a terrible crime committed in her homeland. But as America reached further and further out into the world, the court was forced to confront the contradictions in our country’s ideology: sympathy vs. sovereignty. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Jesner v. Arab Bank, a case that could reshape the way America responds to human rights abuses abroad. Does the A.T.S. secure human rights or is it a dangerous overreach?

The key voices:

  • Ken Saro-Wiwa Jr., son of activist Ken Saro-Wiwa Sr.
  • Dolly Filártiga, sister of Joelito Filártiga
  • Paloma Calles, daughter of Dolly Filártiga
  • Peter Weiss, lawyer at the Center for Constitutional Rights who represented Dolly Filártiga in Filártiga v. Peña-Irala
  • Katherine Gallagher, lawyer at the Center for Constitutional Rights
  • Paul Hoffman, lawyer who represented Kiobel in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum
  • John Bellinger, former legal adviser for the U.S. Department of State and the National Security Council
  • William Casto, professor at Texas Tech University School of Law
  • Eric Posner, professor at University of Chicago Law School
  • Samuel Moyn, professor at Yale University
  • René Horst, professor at Appalachian State University

Trouble hearing the audio? Listen on WNYC here

Last modified 

October 24, 2017