International Law Is Part Of Our Law, Or Is It?

by Duncan Hollis

Last Monday, I attended a conference at Vanderbilt Law School, sponsored by the American Society of International Law’s Interest Group on International Law in Domestic Courts. It was a great conference on many levels. For one thing, it afforded me the chance to see several of my Opinio Juris colleagues–Julian, Peggy, Roger and recent alum, Bobby Chesney–in person (for those of you looking for gossipy details, let’s just say what goes on at the conference, stays at the conference). On a more academic note, I had an opportunity to present my own work in progress, Executive Federalism, which I’ll post on later.

For now, I wanted to flag a paper presented by Professor William S. Dodge of the Hastings College of Law, entitled “The Story of The Paquete Habana: Customary International Law as Part of Our Law” which is available here on SSRN. At a time when so many law students (and their professors) are preparing for their international law exams, it is worthwhile to read Professor Dodge’s take on this chestnut of the public international law course. Professor Dodge offers both an historical and theoretical context for Justice Gray’s famous statement that “international law is part of our law.” More interestingly, Dodge rejects reading the Paquete Habana to support the idea that a “controlling executive act” may supersede customary international law. Check it out.

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