Justices struggle in dispute over Venezuela oil rig seizure

Markets Associated Press

The Supreme Court is struggling over a case that could make it easier to sue foreign governments in U.S. courts.

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The court on Wednesday considered whether an Oklahoma-based oil company could move ahead with a lawsuit that claims the government of Venezuela illegally seized 11 oil-drilling rigs in 2010.

Some justices seemed to agree that a lower court had authority to take up the case and consider the merits. But it's a sensitive, U.S. foreign policy issue, and others expressed concern about broader harm to foreign relations.

Justice Stephen Breyer said he was swinging "back and forth" on how to rule.

Foreign countries are generally immune from lawsuits in the U.S. But a federal statute makes an exception when property is taken in violation of international law.