Chicago Journal of International Law


Over the past 20 years, several dozen international human rights cases have been filed in US courts. Many have been dismissed; many are still pending. A small number have resulted in judgments against defendants accused of violations ranging from genocide and war crimes to torture and disappearances. While few money judgments have yet been collected, successful plaintiffs have expressed great satisfaction in the sense of justice and vindication they have obtained from participation in these lawsuits. What does Curtis Bradley find objectionable about this litigation?' He asserts that this is a dangerous line of cases, expanding rapidly, without proper authorization from Congress. He views human rights claims litigation as a perversion of the proper role of our legal system and a threat to US foreign policy. Bradley lays blame for this serious misstep on almost all of the various actors involved in human rights litigation, challenging their motives and alleging improper manipulation of the system. I will argue that the litigation is neither dangerous, nor expanding rapidly-and that it has, in fact, been tacitly endorsed by a modern Congress. Indeed, most of these complaints have been raised for the past twenty years. Practice has shown them to be overblown, if not groundless.

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