Life After Morrison: Extraterritoriality and RICO
For years, the federal courts of appeals have borrowed heavily from securities law jurisprudence in developing a framework for analyzing claims under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). Last year, in the case of Morrison v. National Australia Bank, the Supreme Court issued a ground-breaking opinion that rejected decades of lower court precedent related to the extraterritorial application of U.S. securities laws and reemphasized the vitality of the presumption against extraterritoriality. Because of the parallel development of securities law and RICO jurisprudence, Morrison will have significant consequences for the application of RICO in cases involving foreign defendants and criminal activity conducted overseas. In the immediate wake of Morrison, two lower courts issued opinions with differing interpretations of how to analyze extraterritoriality in the RICO context. This Note considers the evolution of judicial treatment of extraterritoriality in the securities law context, the fundamental principles of RICO jurisprudence, and the historical RICO jurisprudence regarding extraterritoriality. This Note then discusses the two approaches taken by the lower courts in light of Morrison before ultimately endorsing a third approach, which is both more doctrinally sound and more practically workable.