The Supreme Court, which has already placed strict limits on lawsuits brought in federal court based on human rights abuses abroad, seemed open on Wednesday to barring such suits entirely when the defendants are corporations.
The case concerned Arab Bank, which is based in Jordan and operates in about 30 countries. It has been accused of processing financial transactions through a branch in New York for groups linked to terrorism. The plaintiffs in the case seek to hold the bank liable for attacks by Hamas and other groups in Israel and in the Palestinian territories.
Jeffrey L. Fisher, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said his clients had made grave accusations against the bank.
“What we allege is knowing and purposeful financing of terrorism with the expectation that it will make those terrorism attacks more successful and more lucrative for the perpetrators, and that is a violation of the law of nations,” he said.
Paul D. Clement, a lawyer for the bank, said American courts have no business sorting out the truth of accusations involving foreign parties and conduct.