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07/25/2011

International Law in the U.S. Supreme Court
Michael Ramsey

Beginning today, Opinio Juris is hosting an on-line discussion of International Law in the U.S. Supreme Court: Continuity and Change (Cambridge Univ. Press 2011), a book I co-edited with two outstanding scholars, David Sloss (Santa Clara University Law School) and William Dodge (Hastings Law School).  Participants will include Ken Anderson, Harlan Cohen, Andrew Kent, Jenny Martinez, Jeremy Rabkin, and Ingrid Wuerth.

The editors’ introductory description of the book is here.  The book is not a work of originalism but elements of it may be of interest to originalist-oriented scholars.  It describes the Court’s approach to international law throughout the Court’s history and thus covers (among other things) early post-ratification practice that may inform the Constitution’s original meaning.

In particular, the book sheds light on two original-meaning questions at the intersection of constitutional law and international law.  The first is the question posed in the Court’s 2008 case Medellin v. Texas: to what extent do treaty obligations function as law in the U.S. domestic legal system?  The second is the question posed (to some extent) in the Court’s 2004 case Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain: to what extent is customary (unwritten) international law directly enforceable by U.S. courts?

In parallel with the Opinio Juris discussion, this week I’ll post some thoughts on this blog on the conclusions the book suggests regarding these two issues.