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Supreme Court or world court?

On October 28, the Atlanta-based Southern Center for International Studies presented Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor its World Justice Award. During her acceptance speech, O'Connor expressed concern that the High Court has seldom considered foreign laws when reaching important decisions affecting U.S. jurisprudence. She was gratified to note, however, that a few recent decisions may be signaling a change, as the court increasingly acknowledges legal standards set by the "global community."

O'Connor approvingly noted that two important Supreme Court decisions in which she concurred were based in part on foreign laws. A 2002 case, Atkins v. Virginia, further undermined capital punishment for heinous crimes by barring the execution of supposedly mentally retarded individuals. And a 2003 case, Lawrence v. Texas, further eroded the moral underpinnings of our culture by striking down Texas' anti-sodomy law.

In the latter case, O'Connor reminded her audience of internationalists, the court majority relied partly on a series of decisions by European courts. For instance, Justice Anthony Kennedy asserted in his majority decision that "the right the petitioners seek in this case has been accepted as an integral part of human freedom in many other countries," and there was no evidence that governmental interest in circumscribing sexual deviancy (which he termed "personal choice") is "somehow more legitimate or urgent" in the U.S. Though O'Connor's concurring opinion disagreed with some of Kennedy's reasoning, it did not take issue with his reliance on foreign laws.

Justice O'Connor predicted that, "over time, we will rely increasingly--or take notice at least increasingly--on international and foreign law in resolving domestic issues." Doing so, she speculated, "may not only enrich our own country's decisions, I think it may create that all important good impression." More likely, it would further de-Constitutionalize High Court decisions while advancing the collectivist new world order that Justice O'Connor appears to embrace.
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Title Annotation:Insider Report
Publication:The New American
Date:Dec 1, 2003
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