[Curtis Bradley is the William Van Alstyne Professor of Law at Duke Law School.]
I want to give my sincere thanks to the eight contributors who commented on my book this week as part of the Opinio Juris online symposium: David Moore, Jean Galbraith, Julian Ku, Kristina Daugirdas, Bill Dodge, Mark Weisburd, Mike Ramsey, and Ingrid Wuerth. Each of these contributors offered valuable feedback on aspects of the book, and I am extremely grateful for their insightful observations.
The book covers a wide range of topics concerning the role of international law in the U.S. legal system, including the domestic status of treaties and customary international law, the validity of executive agreements, delegations of authority to international institutions, Alien Tort Statute litigation, sovereign and official immunity, criminal law enforcement, and the U.S. conduct of war. At one time or another, I have written law review articles relating to most of these topics. As the contributors to the symposium observed, however, the book is not an effort to re-argue positions that I have advanced in scholarship over the years. Instead, I have attempted in the book to guide readers through the competing arguments in the relevant debates, while providing a general sense of how the law has evolved and where it stands at the present time.
The book emphasizes considerations of constitutional structure, something that is now fairly common in scholarship relating to international law in the U.S. legal system but was less common when I began teaching and writing in the mid-1990s. Another theme of the book is that when international law operates in the U.S. legal system, its role is often mediated by domestic laws and institutions. This does not mean that international law is unimportant in the U.S. legal system, and in fact the book is filled with examples of the significant roles that international law can and does play. But it does mean that the international law that is applied in the U.S. legal system has a distinctively American gloss. The book further highlights how the U.S. legal system not only receives international law but also frequently contributes to it, on issues such as treaty reservations and sovereign immunity.
The symposium contributors have addressed a number of specific propositions in the book. Here are some brief comments on each of their posts: