The Court in the World: The First Annual Justice Stephen Breyer Lecture on International Law
As transnational issues pervade the U.S. Supreme Court docket, international law plays an increasingly important role, even in cases once considered purely domestic. Judges in the United States and elsewhere can benefit greatly from studying opinions and rulings in other countries to better inform decisions at home and engage in an exchange of legal concepts in areas of shared values. Courts around the world have important contributions to make towards bridging different political and legal cultures and doing the fundamental legal and institutional work required to shape law, especially as state, federal and international law become increasingly interconnected.
On April 3, the Foreign Policy Program at Brookings and The Hague Institute for Global Justice, with the Foreign Ministry of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, hosted Justice Stephen Breyer for a discussion of the role of the U.S. Supreme Court in the world. This event launched the inaugural lecture in the Annual Justice Stephen Breyer International Law Lecture Series, which addresses critical issues of international law and the courts that apply it. Strobe Talbott, president of the Brookings Institution, introduced the speaker and Abiodun Williams, president of The Hague Institute for Global Justice, moderated the discussion.
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President-elect Bolsonaro has embraced tough-on-crime measures that egregiously violate basic human rights and eviscerate the rule of law. Responding to Brazil’s 63,880 homicides in 2017, Bolsonaro calls for increasing protection for police officers who kill alleged criminals and arming citizens. He calls for further militarizing urban policing, reducing the age of criminal liability from 18 to 16, reinstating the death penalty, authorizing torture in interrogations and imprisoning more people... Brazil’s police are already notorious for being one of the world’s deadliest in the use of force. In many favelas, Brazil’s retired and current police officers operate illegal militias that extort and control local communities, murdering those who oppose them and engaging in warfare with Brazil’s highly-violent gangs and in social cleansing. Bolsonaro is simply threatening to turn the rest of the police into state-sanctioned thugs.