How much, if at all, should the U.S. legal system take foreign law into account? How does globalization generally affect the workings of the American judicial system? These are some of the important questions that have occupied Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Stephen Breyer for some time, and that are the subject of his new book, “The Court and the World: American Law and the New Global Realities.”
Justice Breyer discussed these ideas at a recent event sponsored by Governance Studies at Brookings, moderated by Senior Fellow Ben Wittes and including Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor at Slate. When asked about his book’s thesis, Justice Breyer noted that today, in 15 to 20 percent of the court cases, “you have to know what’s going on abroad to decide the case.” Watch:
Outside observers often point to an debate among the Court’s members over referencing international law, particularly Justice Antonin Scalia’s views. “This is not about a debate with Justice Scalia,” Justice Breyer asserted. However, he said, “There is a political debate more than a legal debate about whether the court should in its opinions refer to decisions of foreign courts.” In this clip, Justice Breyer elaborates on this point and refers to a discussion he had with Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.). Watch:
Audio and full video of the event are now available.