Virginia Journal of International Law, Vol. 49-3: Online Symposium

by The Editors of the Virginia Journal of International Law

The Virginia Journal of International Law is delighted to continue its partnership with Opinio Juris this week in this online symposium featuring three articles recently published by VJIL in Vol. 49:3, available here.
On Wednesday, Professor Duncan B. Hollis of Temple University James E. Beasley School of Law and Joshua J. Newcomer, Clerk for the Honorable Carolyn Dineen King of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, will discuss their article “Political” Commitments and the Constitution. The authors offer a novel constitutional theory of political commitments – i.e., non-legally binding agreements among nations. Although the United States has a long-history of making political commitments instead of treaties, there is no theory to explain the President’s authority to do so. Most government officials and scholars simply assume that since political commitments are not international law, they are irrelevant to domestic law as well. The Bush administration almost adopted this view recently, and critics questioned the administration’s proposed conclusion of a new security relationship with Iraq that would merely have been a “political” commitment. The authors contend that the Constitution does regulate the President’s ability to make political commitments and provide a comprehensive constitutional analysis to support this view. Specifically, the authors explain why the Constitution should care about political commitments; demonstrate how existing constitutional powers are inadequate to that task; identify and develop a discrete Executive power to make political commitments, subject to legislative checks; and  explore how variations in a political commitment’s form, substance, organization and autonomy can require Congress to demand information on—or even approval of—such commitments.
Professor Edward T. Swain of the George Washington University Law School and Professor Michael Ramsey of the University of San Diego School of Law will serve as respondents.
On Thursday, Professor Hari M. Osofsky of the Washington and Lee University School of Law will discuss her article Is Climate Change “International”? Litigation’s Diagonal Regulatory Role. Professor Osofsky’s article examines the scale of climate regulation. More specifically, Professor Osofsky claims that because greenhouse gas emissions and impacts are multiscalar—individual, local, state, national, regional, and international—focusing predominantly on any one level of governance limits solutions.  Professor Osofsky explores two examples of these scalar contests—California’s suit against San Bernardino County for its failure to regulate and the U.S. EPA’s denial of California’s Clean Air Act waiver request—and their implications for regulatory scale.
Professor Nathan Sayre of the University of California at Berkeley and Professor J.B. Ruhl of Florida State University will serve as respondents.
On Friday, Margaret K. Lewis, Senior Research Fellow at NYU Law School’s U.S.-Asia Law Institute, will discuss her article Taiwan’s New Adversarial System and the Overlooked Challenge of Efficiency-Driven Reforms. In embracing a so-called “reformed adversarial system,” Taiwan has concomitantly adopted several means of settling criminal disputes in an expeditious fashion, namely, deferred prosecution, plea bargaining, file-based adjudication, and simplified trials. The domestic debate behind the use of these procedures has centered on efficiency grounds. Beyond a narrow focus on saving resources, what has gone unrecognized is how these efficiency-driven procedures are creating a distinct channel of streamlined, prosecutor-dominated justice that is emerging alongside the adversarial one and even impeding the development of the new adversarial approach. There remains a void both in the domestic Taiwanese context and in the broader international literature as to how streamlined criminal proceedings play into a larger transition towards an adversarial system. Lewis examines the sea change in Taiwan’s criminal justice system and the lessons that it offers to three audiences.
Nigel Li and Professor Jaw-perng Wang will serve as respondents. Li is a prominent lawyer and legal scholar in Taiwan and Jaw-perng Wang is a professor of law at National Taiwan University.
We encourage you to join in the discussion online this week. When the symposium concludes, we hope that you will keep in contact with us through our website to continue the conversation.

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