In her profile of Justice David Souter in the New York Times this weekend, Linda Greenhouse notes that Justice Souter only crossed the Atlantic twice, once for his Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford, and the second time for an Oxford reunion. But for a judge who had spent such little time abroad, he certainly demonstrated concern (shall I dare say "empathy"?) for those beyond our shores. This was made clear in his decision in Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain, a case handed down on the last day of the Court's October 2003 term.
Sosa was the Court's first full engagement with the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), which formed but one sentence in the Federal Judiciary Act of 1789: "The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of any civil action by an alien for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States."