International Law and the Supreme Court

by Roger Alford

My friends David Sloss, Michael Ramsey, and Bill Dodge are the editors of a remarkable forthcoming book on The U.S. Supreme Court and International Law: Continuity or Change?. They have gathered an all-star cast of scholars to address the role of international law in Supreme Court jurisprudence from 1860 to the present. The book will be published by Oxford University Press in 2010.

There will be a conference to discuss the draft chapters this Friday and Saturday, November 6-7, at Santa Clara Law School. If you are in the area, I’m confident you will find the event enriching. (You can register here.) I especially like the division of the topics, focusing on four major periods, and dividing chapters within those periods by treaties, customary international law, and interpretation. (My chapter focuses on the role of statutory and constitutional interpretation from 1900-1945.)

I have read many of the draft chapters and there is much to praise. Here’s how Sloss, Ramsey and Dodge summarize the project:

During this conference, scholars will evaluate recent Supreme Court decisions involving international law against the backdrop of eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth-century precedents and historical developments. The main questions to be addressed are: In what respects do the twenty-first century decisions represent a break from the past? In what respects are those decisions consistent with earlier practice and precedents? From a historical perspective, how can we account for both the continuity and the discontinuity?

Worst of all, in lieu of attending this amazing, wonderful, intoxicating conference on international law and the Supreme Court, I will be attending this event instead. Alas, to every thing there is a season, a time to mourn and a time to dance.

One Response

  1. I got a chance to meet both Bill Dodge and Michael Ramsey at a recent conference and heard about this book, and I must say, Roger is right and the book looks fascinating.

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