Tuesday, January 24, 2006

McGuinness on Justice Blackmun's Internationalism

Our own Peggy McGuiness has just published an article in the Missouri Law Review on "The Internationalism of Justice Blackmun." When an international scholar thinks of Justice Blackmun a few cases quickly come to mind: Mitsubishi v. Soler, Aerospatiale, Sale, Goldwater, etc. But as McGuiness outlines, his impact on internationalism is far greater than a few odd cases. It also includes nurturing the likes of Harold Koh and Donald Donovan, and authoring a seminal article that has proved instrumental in launching the current rage of reliance on foreign authority in constitutional interpretation. All of this, and more, is outlined in McGuiness' article. With the Blackmun Papers now available, McGuiness looks behind the curtain and offers a deeper understanding of Justice Blackmun's internationalism.

Here is the abstract:
Justice Harry Blackmun has been described as "willful", "liberal", "conservative", "humble", and a "White Anglo-Saxon Protestant Republican Rotarian Harvard Man from the Suburbs". One adjective that is conspicuously missing is "internationalist". Internationalism is, in part, reflected in Blackmun's "preference change" or shift from relatively conservative to relatively liberal. At the same time, Blackmun's internationalism defies most traditional judicial typologies. That Blackmun as internationalist has been a minor theme in the academic literature is understandable given the small number of cases concerning international or transnational legal questions that reach the Court. Nonetheless, an examination of those opinions, as well as of Justice Blackmun's best known outside writing and speaking, uncovers his somewhat surprising and arguably influential internationalist turn.

This comment provides a roadmap for closer examination of the Blackmun Papers and evaluates the sources of internationalism in Blackmun's opinions as manifested in four separate but related jurisprudential approaches: (1) in federalism questions, deferring to the federal political branches' ordering of international economic and political relationships; (2) adopting a view of globalization that preferences international and/or foreign-based approaches to ordering private economic and business relations; (3) interpreting treaty obligations according to globally accepted international law interpretation doctrines; and (4) respecting and acknowledging international and foreign judicial opinions in constitutional jurisprudence. An understanding of these approaches can usefully inform typologies of internationalism among other Justices, past, present, and future.


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