Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Court and the World

The Court and the World
By Stephen Breyer
Knopf; Reprint edition (September 15, 2015) 400 pages Nonfiction

Justice Breyer’s analysis of the effect on and by the American justice system and the Supreme Court involving foreign influences appeals both to historical and contemporary examples. His hypothesis is that the reality of globalization necessitates the reliance on foreign law in decisions reached by courts in the United States.

Given the premise of the book and the author, it is no surprise that The Court and the World is packed with dense legalese. Breyer tries to be objective in his presentation of events and his arguments; when he discusses decisions in which he played a part, he notes how he voted and respects the dissenting votes of his colleagues. However, he gives little credence to the opposing view that drawing on international laws for domestic issues threatens the doctrine of self-governance. The Court and the World is an interesting read for any who are interested in the Supreme Court or in international politics, but it is neither a comprehensive nor a balanced view of the issue.

In light of Justice Scalia's death, I found the account of FDR's court packing scheme (which raised the number of justices from 9 to 15) and other historical information about the court as interesting as the concepts they were used to illustrate.


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