Act of State Doctrine

The act of state doctrine provides that U.S. courts will not question the validity of an official act of a foreign government fully performed within its own territory. The act of state doctrine is a doctrine of federal common law that is binding on state courts as well as federal courts. There are several exceptions to the doctrine, including one for expropriations in violation of international law created by Congress in the Second Hickenlooper Amendment, 22 U.S.C. 2370(e)(2).

A Primer on the Act of State Doctrine

The act of state doctrine is a federal common law doctrine providing that courts in the United States will not question the validity of an official act of a recognized foreign government fully performed within its own territory. The doctrine is often applied in cases like Banco Nacional de Cuba v. Sabbatino (1964) to require…

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When Should Federal Common Law Govern Transnational Litigation?

The conventional wisdom is that transnational litigation “can trigger foreign relations concerns.” Because the federal government has primary responsibility for the United States’ relations with other nations, the question naturally arises whether federal law should govern such litigation even when neither a federal statute, nor the U.S. Constitution, nor a treaty is applicable. Currently, as…

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A Primer on State Law in Transnational Litigation

[Editors: This post is one in a series of Primers on topics in transnational litigation. Primers on each of the topics listed in the Topics menu are planned, and some already appear on the relevant topic pages.] The procedural and substantive rules that U.S. courts apply in transnational litigation come from many sources, including the…

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Throwback Thursday: International Association of Machinists v. OPEC

In 1978, the International Association of Machinists (IAM), a labor union, sued OPEC and its member countries for violating U.S. antitrust law by operating a cartel. The district court held that OPEC countries were immune from suit under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA). On appeal the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal on…

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John Harrison, The American Act of State Doctrine, 47 Geo. J. Int’l L. 507 (2016) (SSRN)

Chimène I. Keitner, Adjudicating Acts of State, in Foreign Affairs Litigation in U.S. Courts 49 (John Norton Moore ed., 2013) (SSRN)

Gregory Fox, Reexamining the Act of State Doctrine: An Integrated Conflicts Analysis, 33 Harv. Int’l L.J. 521 (1992) (Wayne State)

Louis Henkin, Act of State Today, Recollections in Tranquility, 6 Colum. J. Transnat’l L. 175 (1967)