Foreign Affairs, International Law, and the New Federalism: Lessons from Coordination
Robert B. Ahdieh
Emory University School of Law
Emory Law and Economics Research Paper No. 08-30
Emory Public Law Research Paper No. 08-43
Princeton Law and Public Affairs Working Paper No. 08-008
Columbia Public Law Research Paper No. 08-184
Even with the departure of two of its most vocal advocates - Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor - the federalism revolution initiated by the Supreme Court almost twenty years ago continues its onward advance. If recent Court decisions and Congressional legislation are any indication, its latest beachhead may be the realm of foreign affairs and international law. The emerging federalism of foreign affairs and international law is of a distinct form, however, with distinct implications for the relationship of sub-national, national, and international institutions and interests.
In this article, I draw on the prism of "coordination" - as well as related understandings of standard-setting processes - to question two conventional assumptions about the relationship of the sub-national, national, and international: First, the widespread notion that a coherent foreign affairs regime requires a single, national voice. Second, the almost visceral notion of conflict in the interaction of international norms with sub-national interests - a conception of international law as silencing (or at least ignoring) sub-national voices.
Familiar as they are, both these claims are wrong. Coordination can be achieved in foreign affairs even without an exclusive national voice. International law, meanwhile, may increasingly offer opportunities for states and localities to be heard. Once we appreciate as much, we can begin to develop a richer account of the interaction of sub-national, national, and international institutions and interests as "our federalism" reaches abroad.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 51
Keywords: coordination, international law, foreign affairs, federalism, New Federalism, standard-setting, state and local, sub-national, intersystemic governance, Sudan, SADA, Medellin, Avena, network, horizontal coordination
JEL Classification: D71, D72, F02, F15, F42, H11, H73, H77, K33
Date posted: September 25, 2008