Boumediene and the Uncertain March of Judicial Cosmopolitanism

22 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2008

See all articles by Eric A. Posner

Eric A. Posner

University of Chicago - Law School

Date Written: August 7, 2008


In Boumediene v. Bush, the Supreme Court held that noncitizens detained at Guantanamo Bay have the constitutional privilege of habeas corpus. The case can be given multiple interpretations, including a narrow reading under which it follows straightforwardly from Eisentrager. But Justice Kennedy's majority opinion omits consideration of a factor that plays a role in Eisentrager, namely, the limited constitutional status of the noncitizen. For this reason, the most distinctive element of Justice Kennedy's reasoning is its cosmopolitanism, not its libertarianism. The cosmopolitan elements of Boumediene recall the debate about the use of foreign law to interpret provisions of the U.S. Constitution, of which Justice Kennedy is a major proponent, and it is argued that critics of judicial cosmopolitanism should reject Boumediene as well.

Suggested Citation

Posner, Eric A., Boumediene and the Uncertain March of Judicial Cosmopolitanism (August 7, 2008). U of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 228. Available at SSRN: or

Eric A. Posner (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Law School ( email )

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