CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Monday, March 21, 2005

Is There Room for the World in Our Courts?

On Sunday, The Washington Post published an artice by International LawProf Sarah H. Cleveland of Texas Law called Is There Room for the World in Our Courts?.  The article focuses on the role of international law in relation to traditional American constitutional values in the recent Roper decision, and the ongoing debates about gay rights, the death penalty, and abortion.  The article concludes: "  Over a century ago, the court observed that "The Constitution of the United States was . . . . made for an undefined and expanding future, and for a people gathered, and to be gathered, from many nations and of many tongues; and while we take just pride in the principles and institutions of the common law, we are not to forget that in lands where other systems of jurisprudence prevail, the ideas and processes of civil justice are also not unknown."

Those who seek to differentiate the American system from the international community fail to recognize that the United States is a participant in the making of international law, from international trade rules to international humanitarian law and human rights.

The use of international law does not mean we should follow it blindly. But willfully ignoring those rules both brings the United States into conflict with other nations, as with the juvenile death penalty, and hampers our ability to invoke international rules from which we wish to benefit. International law has been a part of our law from the beginning, and its use in constitutional analysis is fully part of the American tradition."  Cleveland's full article is here. [Mark Godsey]

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