Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Keitner on the Use of International and Foreign Law Sources in U.S. Adjudication

Chimene Keitner has posted a paper to SSRN titled, "International and Foreign Law Sources: Siren Song for U.S. Judges?" It was written as an issue brief for the American Constitution Society and can be viewed at Here is the abstract:

Professor Keitner addresses the growing debate over the use of foreign and international law sources by U.S. judges engaged in constitutional adjudication. She begins by summarizing the attitudes towards international law sources exhibited by individual justices in the American legal system, noting that "one's opinion about the potential relevance of foreign and international law sources . . . depends in no small part on one's view of the role of judges in a constitutional democracy." Professor Keitner then examines the public opposition to the citation of foreign law sources in Lawrence v. Texas and Roper v. Simmons, which manifested itself in proposed legislation that would constrain how judges could interpret cases and prohibit the consideration of international law sources. Finally, Professor Keitner identifies three principled objections to the use of foreign and international law sources in constitutional adjudication (categorizing them as as institutionalist, instrumentalist, and inherentist objections), and responds to each in turn. Professor Keitner concludes, "Participating in international judicial dialogue should be viewed as a means of strengthening, not weakening, our commitment to the democratic values embodied in the U.S. Constitution."

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