Resolution Combats Use Of
International Laws in U.S. Court Decisions
By Jimmy Moore
April 16, 2004
WASHINGTON (Talon News) -- Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL) has
introduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives
that would combat the use of international laws by American
courts by affirming that any judicial decisions should not be
based on any foreign laws, court decisions, or pronouncements
of foreign governments unless they are expressly approved by
"The Reaffirmation of American Independence Resolution," or
H.RES. 568, was submitted last month and has 59 co-sponsors in
The resolution expresses concern that U.S. Supreme Court
justices have chosen to cite international laws in their
rulings. However, the congressmen who support this resolution
say the justices swear
to uphold the U.S. Constitution and should be impeached for
precedence to international laws. Over the past few years, six
U.S. Supreme Court justices have pointed to foreign laws to
justify their rulings in several cases. This trend has even
begun to trickle down into the lower federal courts. In 1999,
Justice Breyer used judicial rulings from Jamaica, India,
Zimbabwe, and the European Court of Human Rights to support
his opinion in a death penalty case. Justice Kennedy noted
European court rulings in the controversial Lawrence v. Texas
case in 2003 that legalized gay sex. Feeney believes it is the
responsibility of the people's representatives in Congress to
instruct judges in the United States to make rulings based
solely on the U.S. Constitution.
"The American people have not consented to being ruled by
foreign powers or tribunals, and their elected representatives
have an obligation to ensure that America's courts do not
impose this rule upon them," Feeney remarked in a statement.
He added, "America's sovereignty and the integrity of our
legal process should not be threatened by a jurisprudence
predicated upon laws and judicial decisions alien to our
Constitution and our system of self-government."
Article VI of the U.S. Constitution clearly states that the
Constitution and federal statutes comprise the supreme law of
the land. Every member of the U.S. Congress has to swear an
oath to defend the Constitution and pass laws that respect its
authority. Likewise, federal judges, including Supreme Court
justices, are bound by an oath to defend the Constitution and
interpret the law accordingly.
"The Reaffirmation of American Independence Resolution" holds
elected officials and judges accountable to this oath.
University of California-Berkeley law professor John Yoo
recently wrote in a law review article about the dangers of
using international legal decisions
in American courts.
"If foreign decisions were to become, in close cases, outcome
determinative, or even were to trigger some type of deference,
then they would effectively transfer federal authority outside
the control of national government," Yoo explained.
The resolution is currently being considered during hearings
in the House