Sunday, September 28, 2008

When Judges Make Foreign Policy

This is a truly interesting article in the NYT magazine today. The idea, essentially, is that the US Supreme Court has become an important factor in how the United States relates to the rest of the world. The idea might displease some conservatives, and it is probably part of a wider question about the enormous power judges wield in this country. (What is it the French say about us? We have government by judge?) But whatever you think about it, it is probably a true observation. The authour breaks the battle down into the conservative "sovereignty" camp and the liberal "internationalist" camp. I belong pretty strongly to the latter and I suspect the authour does too, but he's pretty fair. There is an interesting tid bit about Medellín that I did not know:

What made this conflict between the Supreme Court and the International Court of Justice particularly stark was that the Bush administration had for once taken the side of international law. Before the Supreme Court issued its opinion, President Bush issued a memorandum advising state courts to follow the judgment of the International Court of Justice.

I would never have thought that Bush would have done something like that (though possibily he was just completely unaware).

The article also serves as a potent reminder that the next president will very likely be able to appoint more Supreme Court justices than Bush. To me at least, this argues strongly for an Obama presidency, though obviously more conservative folks may disagree.

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