Monday, January 03, 2005

Justices Scalia & Breyer's "Conversation" on Foreign Law in U.S. Cases to be Webcast on January 13.

Scotusblog notes today that on January 13, 2005 (4-5:30 est), American University Law School in D.C. will host a "conversation" between Justices Scalia & Breyer on the topic of "the relevance of foreign law for American constitutional adjudication."

For an introduction to the Scalia/Breyer debate over the citation of foreign legal authority to support legal arguments in U.S. courts, see the multi-part post on American University Law Professor Kenneth Anderson's blog: Law of War & Just War Theory. Professor Anderson's post contains excerpts from his forthcoming Harvard Law Review article. Anderson notes that Scalia, being the true originalist/textualist, believes that a foreign constitution is not an appropriate source for interpreting an already written constitution (although foreign constitutions may be helpful for writing one anew). Anderson writes that "[c]onstitutions are different, insofar as they are the constitutive document of a political community."

While this debate might seem obscure, it's really quite interesting. Foreign laws are sometimes cited in briefs and opinions in cases involving civil rights (e.g, death penalty, gay rights, etc.) Anyway, for those of us in the hinterlands, thanks to American Univ. for planning a webcast of the discussion. More details will be made available beginning January 10th. Stay tuned!

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