Foreign Precedents and the US Supreme Court

Foreign Precedents and the US Supreme Court

With many thanks to Alice Dong of Legal Affairs for the following worthwhile tip:

“I think you might be interested in a forum just published in Legal Affairs magazine between Richard Posner and Vicki Jackson about the Supreme Court and international law.

Here’s Posner’s piece:

Here’s Jackson’s:“.

Indeed, the Legal Affairs pieces referred to by Alice present excellent counterposed analyses of the pros and cons of this increasingly recurring modern jurisprudential question.

Posner identifies the issue as follows:

“THE QUESTION FOR THIS DEBATE is: “Should foreign or international legal decisions ever be considered relevant to United States Supreme Court rulings?” Alternatively but equivalently: “In what circumstances, if any, should the United States Supreme Court cite a decision by an international or other foreign court?”

Jackson writes pro, e.g.:

“Legal education is just beginning to recognize the importance of offering training in understanding foreign and international law.”

Posner writes contra, e.g.:

“The problem is not learning from abroad; it is treating foreign judicial decisions as authorities in U.S. cases, as if the world were a single legal community.”

The issues discussed are not merely theoretical legal exercises, but reflect the ongoing and surely inevitable globalization of the world. A great read.