Monday, March 20, 2006

Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Foreign Law

Justice Ginsberg has recently stated her displeasure with a handful of Congressional proposals designed to limit the ability of the Supreme Court of the United States to consider or cite foreign laws when deciding on cases. From the article:

While emphasizing that the rulings and reasoning of non-U.S. courts are not "controlling authorities," she told the South African audience that foreign law can be a useful source of common standards of fairness. The Supreme Court's citation of them shows "comity and a spirit of humility" toward other countries, she said.

On the Supreme Court, Ginsburg's view is backed, to one degree or another, by Justices John Paul Stevens, Anthony M. Kennedy, Stephen G. Breyer and David H. Souter.


On the other hand, both Alito and Roberts have objected to the use of foreign law to construe the U.S. Constitution, and Scalia has stated on the record that foreign law should only be used when deciding cases involving treaties with foreign nations. Almost sounds like the opposing groups will meet at the school flagpole to settle their differences, eh?

If you're interested in looking further into the debate, try watching the following two videos:

Video 1: Justices Scalia and Breyer speaking to a group of law students at American University. The video is over an hour long, but it's definitely worth watching.

Video 2: Justice Scalia speaking at the American Enterprise Institute. Slightly shorter than an hour long.

And, for the record, I agree with Scalia.

(update: fixed the useless video links, so they should work now)

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