Thursday, September 18, 2008

American Exception Series in New York Times

The is running "American Exception," a series by Adam Liptak about "commonplace aspects of the American justice system that are almost unique in the world." Today's piece was about the declining influence of the Supreme Court: the courts of other nations used to look to Supreme Court precedents much more than they do now. U.S. Court Is Now Guiding Fewer Nations, N.Y. Times, Sept. 18, 2008.

Several reasons are suggested:

  • Many countries' constitutions and bills of rights were new in the second half of the twentieth century, so their courts used Supreme Court precedents. Now those countries have a larger body of precedents of their own.
  • Those countries are now citing each others' cases now, more, too.
  • The trend in many jurisdictions is toward expanding rights -- and our Supreme Court hasn't been going in that directions in the last 20 years as much as it did in the 1960s and 1970s. The Canadian Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights are now more influential.
  • Some foreign judges may be put off by the vocal Americans who say that American courts shouldn't cite foreign precedents.
Earlier articles in the series:

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