Wednesday, April 27, 2005
On this day:

High Court Seeks International Applause

Justice O'Connor Dismisses Ado Over Int'l Law By HOPE YEN
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on Thursday dismissed growing criticism about the Supreme Court's use of international law in its opinions, saying it makes sense for justices to look at foreign sources when a point of law is unclear. O'Connor, a Reagan appointee, participated in a lively one-hour discussion at the National Archives with Justices Antonin Scalia and Stephen G. Breyer. She said if there is no controlling U.S. precedent or the viewpoint of states is unsettled, "of course we look at foreign law." [...] Three of the justices — Scalia, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Clarence Thomas — have said foreign law has no relevance. Scalia has been increasingly critical of the practice in recent months, pointing to decisions in recent years to decriminalize gay sex and ban the execution of the mentally retarded. "I don't agree it's much ado about nothing," Scalia said in response to O'Connor. Regarding the death penalty case, he said the majority led by Kennedy "contradicted the view of the majority of the states." "I don't see how international law is relevant. I don't know what a South Africa court will tell you about American law," he said.