Kiobel vs. Royal Dutch Petroleum is on the Monday schedule for the new term of the Supreme Court.
Shell is accused of working with the Nigerian government to ensure resistance to operations in the oil-rich Niger Delta was protected by military force. In a 71-page brief filed with the Supreme Court, the company argued the Alien Tort Statute doesn't apply in Nigeria because that law doesn't extend to activity conducted on foreign soil.
The U.S. government in June filed a brief stating its partial support for Shell in the case, saying the Alien Tort Statute shouldn't be applied.
Tutu, writing in USA Today, said it was "troubling" that Shell was trying to undermine the tort statute. A truth commission set up to address the claims was meant to resolve the issue, though Tutu said the company has shown "no willingness" to ask for forgiveness.
"If the Supreme Court sides with Shell, it would represent a terrible step backward for human rights," he writes.
Advocacy group EarthRights International in July filed Freedom of Information Act requests seeking information about whether business interests of Cabinet-level officials in the United States swayed the government's decision in the Kiobel case.