Edward Douglass White's Use of Roman and Canon Law: A Study in the Supreme Court's Use of Foreign Legal Citations

30 Pages Posted: 18 Jun 2007  

Charles J. Reid Jr.

University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota)

Abstract

The debate raging today in the Supreme Court over the precedential value of foreign law is not new; in his tenure on the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Edward Douglass White made extensive use of Roman and Canon law when American law either proved inadequate or needed supplementation. While Justice White's jurisprudential excursions at times veered into activism, his reliance on outside sources was the natural action of a classically-trained jurist looking for universal legal truths to guide his opinions. Three cases illustrate the ways in which Justice White's spacious interpretation of foreign law finds the seeds of American jurisprudence in the remnants of ancient Rome.

Keywords: Supreme Court, foreign legal citations, Roman law, canon law Edward Douglass White

Suggested Citation

Reid, Charles J., Edward Douglass White's Use of Roman and Canon Law: A Study in the Supreme Court's Use of Foreign Legal Citations. University of St. Thomas Law Journal, Vol. 3, p. 281, 2005; U of St. Thomas Legal Studies Research Paper No. 07-19. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=993634

Charles J. Reid Jr. (Contact Author)

University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota) ( email )

MSL 400, 1000 La Salle Avenue
Minneapolis, MN Minnesota 55403-2005
United States

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