Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsburg gave a speech in South Africa last month, which, for some reason, is just now being publicized. Ginsburg's speech was titled "A Decent Respect for the Opinions of [Human]kind." In it, Ginsburg argued explicitly for the relevance of foreign law and court decisions to interpretation of the American Constitution.
You really should read the entire speech, but its argument is most concisely stated here:To a large extent, I believe, the critics in Congress and in the media misperceive how and why U.S. courts refer to foreign and international court decisions. We refer to decisions rendered abroad, it bears repetition, not as controlling authorities, but for their indication, in Judge Wald's words, of "common denominators of basic fairness governing relationships between the governors and the governed."
This is, to put it politely, nonsense. In our system of government, the courts are not called on to determine what "basic fairness governing relationships between the governors and the governed" requires. For legal purposes, issues of "basic fairness" were decided when the Constitution was authored and approved by the initial thirteen states, and when the document has been amended over the subsequent centuries.
One last comment, on the title of Ginsburg's speech: "A decent Respect to the Opinions of [Human]kind." This more or less sums up her position: the Declaration refers to "Mankind," but that is out of step with what Ginsburg views as the 21st century liberal consensus. So she changed Thomas Jefferson's words to accord with her own usage. And, I suppose, with the usage of various foreign courts. Which is what she and her fellow Democrats propose to do to the Constitution: where the language doesn't match their opinions, change it.
Can we dump this sleepy woman off the court NOW? For crying out loud, international law? Twelve year old girls are old enough to decide if they can have sex? What more from this woman? Get her off the court and then let President Bush appoint Harriet Meirs.
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