By Katie Redford (Contact)
To be delivered to: Donald B. Verrilli, Jr., United States Solicitor General
This November, the US Supreme Court will consider whether corporations can get away with murder. In Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum (Shell), the very same justices who gave corporations free speech rights as people in Citizens United will hear Shell's lawyers argue that corporations bear no legal responsibilities for their role in human rights abuses. Shell has argued that corporations should be immune from human rights lawsuits--because they are a corporation--and that Shell can’t be sued for supporting abuses outside the United States. In the wake of the Citizens United decision, which gave corporations the right to influence U.S. elections, it is critical that we don't let these corporations get away with murder.
The Obama administration took a firm stand for human rights earlier this year when their lawyers argued to the court that Shell and other corporations could be sued for their participation in crimes against humanity. But now the Supreme Court is re-hearing the case, and the administration hasn’t announced whether it will support holding Shell responsible when the abuses occurred outside the United States. Shell is arguing that corporations should be able to operate above the law when outside of the US and we can’t let that happen. If our country and our elections are open for business, then our courts should be open too--especially for victims of corporate crimes against humanity. Any day now, the administration will decide whether they go to the Supreme Court supporting corporate rights or human rights. We must encourage them to stand with the victims of human rights abuses worldwide.
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