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Empagran’s Empire: International Law and Statutory Interpretation in the US Supreme Court of the 21st Century

THE U.S. SUPREME COURT AND INTERNATIONAL LAW; CONTINUITY OR CHANGE?, David L. Sloss, Michael D. Ramsey & William S. Dodge eds., Cambridge University Press, Forthcoming

15 Pages Posted: 21 Oct 2010 Last revised: 27 Dec 2014

Ralf Michaels

Duke University School of Law

Date Written: May 20, 2010

Abstract

In its Empagran decision in 2004, the US Supreme Court decided that purchasers on foreign markets could not invoke US antitrust law even against a global cartel that affects also the United States. This article, forthcoming in a volume dedicated to the history on international law in the US Supreme Court, presents three radically different readings of the opinion. The result is that Empagran is a decision that is transnationalist in rhetoric, isolationist in application, and hegemonial in its effect. A decision with a seemingly straightforward argument is found riddled in the conflict between these different logics. A decision with few references to international law displays deep links to some of the most pressing international law issues. A decision with a forward‑looking globalization rhetoric finds itself mired in history. A decision praising harmony displays somber parallels to decisions refusing interference with the evil of slave trade. This has implications for our understanding of international law today, and for its place in its own history.

Keywords: antitrust, international law, statutory interpretation, civil litigation

Suggested Citation

Michaels, Ralf, Empagran’s Empire: International Law and Statutory Interpretation in the US Supreme Court of the 21st Century (May 20, 2010). THE U.S. SUPREME COURT AND INTERNATIONAL LAW; CONTINUITY OR CHANGE?, David L. Sloss, Michael D. Ramsey & William S. Dodge eds., Cambridge University Press, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1609705

Ralf Michaels (Contact Author)

Duke University School of Law ( email )

210 Science Drive
Box 90362
Durham, NC 27708
United States

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