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Foreign Affairs Legalism: A Critique


Daniel Abebe


University of Chicago - Law School

Eric A. Posner


University of Chicago - Law School

February 9, 2010

University of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 291

Abstract:     
Foreign affairs legalism, the dominant approach in academic scholarship on foreign relations law, holds that courts should abandon their traditional deference to the executive in foreign relations, and that courts and Congress should take a more activist role in foreign relations than in the past. Foreign affairs legalists argue that greater judicial involvement in foreign relations would curb executive abuses and promote international law. We argue that foreign affairs legalism rests on implausible assumptions about the incentives and capacities of courts. In U.S. history the executive has given more support to international law than the judiciary or Congress has; this suggests that foreign affairs legalism would retard rather than spur the advance of international law.

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Date posted: February 12, 2010  

Suggested Citation

Abebe, Daniel and Posner, Eric A., Foreign Affairs Legalism: A Critique (February 9, 2010). University of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 291. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1551300 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1551300

Contact Information

Daniel Y. Abebe
University of Chicago - Law School ( email )
1111 East 60th Street.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
7738344164 (Phone)
HOME PAGE: http://www.law.uchicago.edu/faculty/abebe
Eric A. Posner (Contact Author)
University of Chicago - Law School ( email )
1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-702-0425 (Phone)
773-702-0730 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://www.law.uchicago.edu/faculty/posner-e/
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