The Alien Tort Statute (ATS) gives federal district courts jurisdiction over “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.” It was passed in 1789 as part of the First Judiciary Act, and lay essentially dormant for 190 years. The ATS awoke with a vengeance in 1984, when the Eastern District of New York held in Filartiga v. Pena-Irala that it not only provides jurisdiction, but also creates a federal cause of action for certain violations of international law. This unleashed a wave of ATS litigation and, over the next decade, dozens of lawsuits were filed against former and current dictators and other government officials alleging various human rights abuses. Most of these cases ended with unenforceable default judgments when the defendants failed to appear. This resulted in a significant body of case law interpreting and applying the ATS without the benefit of the adversarial process which is so critical to the American system of justice.