Post by: Nathan Moelker
My Name is Nathan Moelker, and this past semester I’ve had the incredible honor of helping to research and write the Center’s first Supreme Court Amicus Brief. The case, Nestlé v. Doe, concerns a variety of fairly complex legal issues, most of which are beyond the scope of this blog article. The basic issue that we sought to address in our brief, however, is one that does not require complex legal knowledge or an understanding of statutory history.
At the heart of the case are a number of former child slaves who experienced some of the worst forms of human trafficking and child labor in Mali and the Ivory Coast. They were beaten with whips and tortured, and saw even worse things done to other children. No one in the case denies these evils, or the horrors of what these children have experienced. The issue presented was whether American chocolate companies who have provided supplies, training, and financial support for the farmers using these child slaves can be held accountable to determine whether they aided and abetted these evils. The case does not concern whether the companies actually did aid and abet, but whether judges can even consider that question.
The Center has argued through its brief that accountability for aiding and abetting is fundamentally in consonance with both American legal principles and fundamental Christian morality. Focusing here on the poral point, Christianity has consistently led the opposition to slavery around the world. Our faith was at the center of antislavery movements on both sides of the Atlantic as they began to seriously develop throughout the latter part of the eighteenth century. Biblical texts providing that all people were made in God’s image, Genesis 1.26-27, and that all nations are made of one blood, Acts 17.26, served as the rhetorical foundation of their message. William Wilberforce in his speeches and writings calling for the end of slavery used moral terms, emphasizing the judgement from God for the grave sin of slavery.
“In defiance alike of conscience and of reputation, we industriously and perseveringly continue to deprave and darken the Creation of God.”William Wilberforce, A Letter on the abolition of the slave trade, London, Hansard & Sons, 1807, https://ia902500.us.archive.org/4/items/ASPC0002373800/ASPC0002373800.pdf.
A recognition of the moral evil and moral guilt of slavery has driven the best forms of Christian social activism, and the fight against modern slavery is one of the central Christian motivations underlying the work of this Center. Christ calls us to do justice and love mercy and fighting the enslavement of children is one of the clearest ways we can seek to fulfil that mandate. To refuse to hold US Corporations accountable for aiding and abetting such heinous acts is to turn away from the path of the pursuit of justice. If corporations can demonstrate that they have in fact not aided and abetted, that’s one thing. But they should not be made immune from even answering that all important question.
This post was written by a Center for Global Justice Student Staff member. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Regent University, Regent Law School, or the Center for Global Justice.