Friday, April 1, 2016
US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer Addresses ASIL Meeting
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer delivered remarks at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of International Law (ASIL) in Washington, DC yesterday. Justice Breyer's remarks focused on his 2015 book, The Court and the World: American Law and the New Global Realities. Justice Breyer remarked on how the Court's docket has changed since he joined the Court in 1994. They hear many more cases now raising issues of foreign and international law. He alluded to the resistance of some judges to refer to foreign and international law in their work, but suggested that it is almost inevitable now given the Court's changing docket, which reflects globalization generally. He highlighted some of the most difficult decisions for the Court involving the balancing of individual liberties and national security, such as the Guantanamo Bay detainee cases. He also talked about the internationalization of intellectual property law and family law under the Hague Convention on Child Abduction. He reviewed the history of the Court's decision-making in cases touching on foreign policy issues and argued that the Court has moved away from finding many of these questions to be nonjusticiable political questions to a place where the Court is more willing to impose some limits on the Executive branch. However, he was also candid in admitting that he does not know the extent of those limits. He stated that when the Court held that the Constitution does not give the President a "blank check" in Hamden, they still don't know what kind of a check the Constitution does give the President. He urged lawyers, law professors and law students to become more familiar with international law and to share that expertise with the Court to help it resolve the increasing number of cases that involve these issues.