Judging International Judgments
55 Pages Posted: 20 May 2007 Last revised: 10 Dec 2007
This article explores the Supreme Court's decision last term in Sanchez-Llamas v. Oregon. In Sanchez-Llamas, the Court considered the effect that rulings of international tribunals - what I call "international judgments" - should have in American courts. The main opinions in the case mirror a scholarly debate that has raged for the last decade. The Court's opinion adopts a dualist position, under which international judgments have only information value. The dissent, by contrast, adopts the comity model that has gained considerable academic support in recent years. Under that model, American courts defer to international judgments, where possible, in the interests of global uniformity. I argue that the Court's position is the better one. The dualist approach allows domestic courts to balance the competing demands of international order and local autonomy. The comity model, by contrast, draws support from inapposite regional analogies and fails to solve the legitimacy problems that international courts present. In rejecting the comity model, the Sanchez-Llamas Court casts doubt on the long-term prospects of comity scholarship and assures that the American approach to international judgments will be a sensible one.
Keywords: Courts, ICJ, International Judgments, International Tribunals, Sanchez-Llamas v. Oregon, Supreme Court
JEL Classification: K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation