Sophisticates abroad

Charles Lane of the Washington Post reports on a disturbing trend in the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence that we have also remarked upon — the influence of foreign norms and court rulings on U.S. Supreme Court decisions. Justice Kennedy butressed his majority opinion in the homosexual conduct case by noting that the court’s past approval of state sodomy bans is out of step with European law. Justice Stevens made basically the same observation about imposing the death penalty on mentally retarded defendants, and he cited a “friend of the court” brief filed by the European Union. And, perhaps most bizarre of all, Justice Ginsburg (joined by Justice Breyer) cited the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination when she hedged on Justice O’Connor’s meaningless call for an end to racial preferences in college admissions after (another) 25 years.
Lane observes that Justices like Kennedy, Stevens, Ginsburg, and Breyer have been influenced by their contact with European jurists during their annual overseas jaunts. Perhaps some of our robed masters are more interested in impressing their sophisticated European “brethren” than in honestly determining the meaning of our “bumpkin” laws and Constitution.
How are you going to keep them down on the farm after they’ve seen Par-ee?

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