25 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2003
The Supreme Court's references to non-U.S. law in deciding constitutional cases, new treaty institutions associated with NAFTA and the WTO, and recent advocacy urging that U.S. courts should make non-U.S. law a rule of decision more often than they have - all these have generated a new critical literature arguing that these developments threaten domestic sovereignty and self-governance. This Essay attempts to describe precisely what the objections are, distinguishing between discrete objections focusing on particular constitutional problems and sovereignty-based objections. I argue that the discrete objections are not terribly strong and that the sovereignty-based ones re-state familiar arguments about judicial activism. The context is new, but the nature of the arguments is not. I conclude by suggesting that the critical literature is a form of interest-group advocacy of precisely the same kind that the literature criticizes as undermining domestic sovereignty and self-governance - which suggests that neither form of advocacy is really troubling.
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