Sunday, April 12, 2009

Foreign Law in Our Courts

NYT reports on Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsburg's view that foreign law should be taken into account in rulings from the Court: “I frankly don’t understand all the brouhaha lately from Congress and even from some of my colleagues about referring to foreign law."

Ginsburg also doesn't understand (or refuses to accept) her role as a Supreme Court justice. Her job is to be a check on the power of the other branches of government, using the United States Constitution to determine whether legislation passed by the other branches fits within the constraints the Constitution places on those branches. Foreign law is not the US Constitution, therefore it has no relevance. What does a German judge's ruling (or an Iranian judge, for that matter) have to do with the US Constitution?

Citing foreign law is just an excuse to do things that aren't constitutional. Simply search the world for a judge somewhere who agrees with you and cite his/her ruling as precedent. Or are only judges from certain countries worthy? Should we put more weight on the French high court than the Pakistani high court? What happens if Justice Roberts wants to cite the Czech Republic court and Ginsburg cites the Dominican Republic high court?

President Obama has stated that he will seek to add more Supreme Court justices like Ginsburg.

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