International Law as a Tool of Constitutional Interpretation in the Early Immigration Power Cases

29 Pages Posted: 18 Jul 2012

Date Written: 2004

Abstract

The Supreme Court has recently caused controversy by citing international legal authorities in decisions that interpret the United States Constitution. Many commentators have claimed that this is a new development, but they overlook a significant precedent.

International law played an important role in the late-nineteenth-century cases in which the Supreme Court established the federal power to regulate immigration. Those cases looked to something very similar to what we now call "customary international law" as support for its interpretation of Constitution. Reliance on international law in constitutional cases may be a good idea or a bad idea, but it is not a new one.

Keywords: international law, immigration, constitution, customary international law, history, supreme court

Suggested Citation

Ayers, Andrew B., International Law as a Tool of Constitutional Interpretation in the Early Immigration Power Cases (2004). Georgetown Immigration Law Review, Vol. 19, 2004. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2111627

Andrew B. Ayers (Contact Author)

Albany Law School ( email )

80 New Scotland Avenue
Albany, NY 12208
United States

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