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  • Ignoring International Law

    Posted by Shannon Love on April 14th, 2009 (All posts by )

    There is a bizarre idea in leftist circles that U.S. judges should apply the standards of “International Law.” To U.S. cases. From Jonathan Adler via Instapundit:

    For example, Dean Harold Koh of Yale Law School, mentioned as a possible Kerry Supreme Court nominee, has supported the idea that U.S. courts should expansively apply international legal precedents without the authorization of the president and Congress.

    There is one simple reason why this is contrary to everything America stands for. American political theory rest on the idea that all just law arises from the formally expressed will of the people. If at some stage of its development, the people did not vote on a law, the law has no validity. Even the Constitution itself was originally voted on and by design we can vote to amend it as we wish. How, then, can a U.S. judge legitimately use a foreign concept for which the American voters have never cast ballots? By what legal theory are free people bound by the decisions of others in which they have no say? Arguing that judges can impose foreign standards against the will of America voters simply tosses overboard the founding justification for American justice that people should only be governed by law to which they consent. 

    Sadly, this is just another symptom of the American Left’s progressive (pun intended) abandonment of the American concept of governance in favor of the more authoritarian European model. Incapable of conceiving of their own capacity for error and utterly convinced of their own moral rectitude, they have no intellectual or moral issues with using any means necessary to impose their will upon their fellow citizens. They decide what they want and then manufacture a means of getting it. Invoking some vague “international standard” lets them find the legal justification they want in the entrails of whatever monster of foreign law they want to slit open on that particular day. It’s not “international law” they wish to adopt but rather the sole authority to choose to decided what “international law” means on any particular day or in any particular circumstance.

    The American Left is on a long, dark road. 

     

    12 Responses to “Ignoring International Law”

    1. MAS1916 Says:

      Hmm… one world government! How cool!

      The US had better throw off this flirtation with Socialism soon or there won’t be a US left. That is certainly the lefties’ ambition.

    2. Andrew_M_Garland Says:

      Exactly right. Why worry about voting when you already know the right way. A small group of jurists can reach the right decisions for everyone, fair and equitable. (sarcasm warning)

      My personal experience with radicals in college was scary. They don’t mind threatening others, regardless of the academic setting or discussion.


      Leading the People

      [excerpt] He argued that only a radical change in government would bring about a better society. I disagreed. He said that I should join the demonstrations against the University to end the Vietnam war. I thought a sit-in demonstration against the University was misdirected. I suggested the he should demonstrate against the government; the University was not at war.

      He said that his movement would become stronger, and eventually I would agree with him. I asked, what if I didn’t agree with him, even later? He flashed anger and told me that if I didn’t agree on my own, he would make me agree. I saw that as the end of the discussion.

    3. onparkstreet Says:

      “American political theory rest on the idea that all just law arises from the formally expressed will of the people.”

      Yes, this is the problem I always have with, say, the UN. I understand the practical matter of having such international institutions so that nations can negotiate certain things with one another, but I don’t understand granting them some kind of moral superiority over democratically elected bodies.

    4. mishu Says:

      …but I don’t understand granting them some kind of moral superiority over democratically elected bodies.

      Transnational “progressives” often confuse nations with people.

    5. seanf Says:

      It’s a sad day indeed when not content with targeting judges, the GOP targets members of Obama’s executive team.

      Especially when the targeting is content-free and based on lies and statements taken out of context. Koh is Dean of America’s finest law school – Yale consistently outranks HLS – for a reason; he is one of the finest legal minds of his generation. This isn’t Alberto Gonzales or Harriet Miers we’re talking about. This is just cynical – attack-dog mode to score points, regardless of whether it’s actually damaging to the country or not.

      Slate has the goods on what’s going and why the GOP is doing this.
      http://www.slate.com/id/2215142/pagenum/all/

      (And Then They Came for Koh … If mainstream America can’t stand up for Harold Koh, we will get precisely the government lawyers we deserve)

    6. Shannon Love Says:

      SeanF,

      So, a statement by the long time legal writer of the left of center “The New Republic” 5 years ago is part of long orchestrated smeer campaign by Fox News? Dang those guys are good.

      The truth is that Koa is in trouble due to his long standing and well known internationalist leanings. The Sharia thing is just one of those issues that crystalizes complex issues in the popular imagination. People aren’t defending Koa because they know he has a very long track record of legal reasoning that most Americans will reject.

      Koa isn’t a radical figure on the left. That is rather the problem. Leftist have for years been urging the imposition of foreign undemocratic law on America especially in the area of subverting the 2nd Amendment. Koa simply belongs to that widely shared post-modernist school of thought that says that whatever leftists want is good and that they can therefore use any means to get it. Creating a legal theory that says that judges can cherry pick ideas from foreign law and impose them on Americans is the logical outcome of this type of thinking.

      On a personal note, its a little disturbing how quickly you buy into stories that leftist political activist spin even when contradictory evidence is staring you right in the face.

    7. david foster Says:

      Hey Shannon, wanted to be sure you’ve seen Grim’s post which references this.

    8. david foster Says:

      …put the comment on the wrong post…Grim’s post is actually referencing your greed & power post.

    9. seanf Says:

      Shannon,

      I’m not sure I’d call myself a leftist, although I’m certainly on the liberal end of the American spectrum. That may be more due to my distaste for what passes as “conservative” these days. My favorite read these days is actually Daniel Larison (or Andrew Sullivan, when he’s not fixated on gay marriage).

      Anyway, it’s not just me buying into stories that the “political left” encompasses. Here’s a letter from Ken Starr to Richard Lugar – saying that while he and Koh are “diametrically opposed”, Koh is a man of “rock-ribbed integrity”, “great talent” and “high character,” who is “extraordinarily well qualified” for the Office of Legal Counsel.

      http://theplumline.whorunsgov.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/harold-koh_001.pdf

      Here’s Ted Olson, legal lion of the conservative right, saying the same thing.

      http://www.politico.com/blogs/glennthrush/0409/Ted_Olson_vs_Glenn_Beck.html

      When the GOP loses Starr and Olson, it really does have a problem.

      And in fact this is an instance of a more general point. When the right is led by Limbaugh and Beck, Democratic partisans may rejoice, but it is a sad day for America. Democrats need to be opposed by an opposition party with sense, reason and judgment. Things the GOP and its enablers sorely lack these days.

      Just because Glenn Beck says he isn’t is no reason to pile on to the character assassination against him; it’s better to get all the facts first.

      If the GOP keeps this up, they’re on track to lose the professional, college-educated vote entirely. Reflexive ideological loyalty, an attack-dog sensibility, derogation of education and experience, and know-nothingism as a political sensibility is not confidence inspiring.

    10. Shannon Love Says:

      Seanf,

      So, is Koa a long standing proponent of the internationalization of American jurisprudence or not? You don’t answer the question. He might be a man of high integrity and still hold dangerous ideas. Given that you ignore the central question I assume you don’t know or don’t care.

      As for the rest of your comment, I am neither a conservative nor a Republican so I pretty much don’t care. I would point out, however, that claiming not be much a of leftist while reiterating verbatim the White Houses talking points rather undermines your claim.

    11. seanf Says:

      Hmm….maybe the White House is repeating my talking points, because the opinions above are my own. I knew who Koh was and held opinions about him in a legal context, before any talk of an OLC job; that’s why I was able to tell it was mudslinging.

      That’s also why I found this whole exercise in media manipulation so cynical. I’m glad that at least some prominent legal conservatives are standing up for him – it shows not everyone on the right drinks the kool-aid all the time, at least not when it conflicts with their area of expertise.

      And for the record, no, Koh does not support the imposition of Sharia. The fact that this needs to be said is disgraceful. In other news, Glenn Beck is probably not a child molester. At least, no evidence has surfaced so far.

      By the way, if standing up to character assassination is a left-wing act, please don’t call me a mere leftist. I’d be honored to instead be called a left-wing radical.

      Also, you’re mistaken when you assume the Obama administration is leftist. If that were so, his OLC probably wouldn’t be engaging in the disgraceful cover-up / continuation of Bush-era practices that they’re currently engaging in. Torture is not looked upon kindly in leftist circles.

      http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/04/13/obama/index.html

    12. Shannon Love Says:

      Seanf,

      And for the record, no, Koh does not support the imposition of Sharia

      Had you read my original post or the linked article you would have seen that his has nothing to do with the Sharia business. This is about descriptions of his legal theories from five years ago.

      Also, you’re mistaken when you assume the Obama administration is leftist. If that were so, his OLC probably wouldn’t be engaging in the disgraceful cover-up / continuation of Bush-era practices that they’re currently engaging in. Torture is not looked upon kindly in leftist circles.

      Unless its carried out by an anti-American leftist despot then of course its okay. Look at all the Che shirts if want evidence. There hasn’t been a despot or mass killer in the post-WWII era that the left has not either supported or protected. Leftist are only opposed to torture when they can use it to make America or its allies look bad. Otherwise they ignore it.