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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The Executive Does Not Control Common Law Immunity

A previously reported on TLB, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Türkiye Halk Bankasi, A.S. v. United States, to decide whether a bank owned by Turkey is entitled to foreign state immunity from federal criminal prosecution.  Halkbank was indicted for evading sanctions against Iran. Both lower courts denied immunity to Halkbank, reasoning in part that…

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Using TLB to Teach Foreign Relations Law

This post discusses Foreign Relations Law as part of our series explaining how professors can use resources on TLB to teach various classes. Previous posts have discussed Transnational Litigation, Civil Procedure, International Business Transactions, and Conflict of Laws. Although TLB focuses on litigation, and although Foreign Relations Law classes cover many topics that are rarely litigated, there is…

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Is MBS Entitled to Head of State Immunity?

Editor’s Note: This article also appears in Just Security. In 2018, Saudi security agents brutally murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi at Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman (MBS) approved the operation. In 2020, Khashoggi’s widow and a non-profit organization that he helped found sued MBS and…

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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)