Smith v. United States, 507 U.S. 197, 8 (1993)

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Opinion of the Court

its encompassing torts committed in Antarctica. "It is a longstanding principle of American law 'that legislation of Congress, unless a contrary intent appears, is meant to apply only within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.' " EEOC v. Arabian American Oil Co., 499 U. S. 244, 248 (1991) (quoting Foley Bros., Inc. v. Filardo, 336 U. S. 281, 285 (1949)). In applying this principle, "[w]e assume that Congress legislates against the backdrop of the presumption against extraterritoriality." Arabian American Oil Co., supra, at 248; accord, e. g., Argentine Republic v. Amerada Hess Shipping Corp., 488 U. S. 428, 440 (1989) ("When it desires to do so, Congress knows how to place the high seas within the jurisdictional reach of a statute"). The applicability of the presumption is not defeated here just because the FTCA specifically addresses the issue of extraterritorial application in the foreign-country exception. To the contrary, as we stated in United States v. Spelar, 338 U. S. 217, 222 (1949), "[t]hat presumption, far from being overcome here, is doubly fortified by the language of this statute and the legislative purpose underlying it." Petitioner does not assert, nor could she, that there is clear evidence of congressional intent to apply the FTCA to claims arising in Antarctica.5

For all of these reasons, we hold that the FTCA's waiver of sovereign immunity does not apply to tort claims arising in Antarctica. Some of these reasons are based on the language and structure of the statute itself; others are based on presumptions as to extraterritorial application of Acts of Congress and as to waivers of sovereign immunity. We

5 Petitioner instead argues that the presumption against extraterritoriality applies only if it serves to avoid " 'unintended clashes between our laws and those of other nations which could result in international discord.' " Brief for Petitioner 16 (quoting EEOC v. Arabian American Oil Co., 499 U. S., at 248). But the presumption is rooted in a number of considerations, not the least of which is the commonsense notion that Congress generally legislates with domestic concerns in mind.

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