Laurence Tribe on Law and Globalization

Question: Should the court take international opinion into account?

Laurence Tribe: One of the disputes in the court is how legitimate is it to take account of the experience of other nations in interpreting ones own laws and one’s constitution.  I think it’s important that the justices that believe that that’s appropriate will include Kennedy, Breyer, Ginsberg, Souter, Stevens prevail over the justices who think it’s unappropriate like Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Roberts.  Important because if our highest court turns its back on the rest of the world in dealing with seemingly local matters like lethal injections, or the execution of juveniles, or the execution of the mentally retarded, that will help sever the ties of the United States with the rest of the world; make extradition harder; make us more isolated; play into the forces of isolation.  So the more that happens, the harder it will be for us to build the coalition that we need to build in order to deal with fundamentally global and international issues.  So in a sense, the court can do more harm than good in some ways if it moves in the rightward direction that it’s going to move.

Tribe hopes that Justices like Kennedy, Breyer, Ginsberg and Souter continue to allow international experience to prevail.

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