LAST FRIDAY, the Supreme Court's sole female justice told a group of budding lawyers in Ohio that U.S. courts, including her own, should refer to foreign law when deciding cases and that any squeamishness about that was just a "passing phase."
The internationalists cheered.
They've been lobbying for one big international tribunal of love and mutual respect for years.
And they've criticized those who think U.S. courts should stick to U.S. laws and our U.S. Constitution (which Madame Justice Ginsburg swore to uphold and defend as part of her oath of office) as jingoistic and narrow-minded. Listen, they say, it's a big world out there, and I guess we can learn a lot from our brothers and sisters in, say, Canada, where they sneer at the First Amendment, or in Saudi Arabia, which sanctions marriage between 8-year-old girls and middle-aged men.
Ginsburg apparently doesn't believe in the supremacy of the Constitution because to do so would apparently be arrogant. She implied that the failure to consider the reasoning of foreign judges diminished the importance of the Supreme Court, although she didn't give details other than to say that the Canadian high court is "cited more widely abroad than the U.S. Supreme Court," and she made the telling observation that "you will not be listened to if you don't listen to others."
Ah, so that's it. We have to play nice in the international legal sandbox so that other people will pay us some respect. Ginsburg and her legal eagles apparently believe that the law is like a popularity contest and the system with the most friends wins.
It's frightening that a sitting justice would actually say that we should be worried about how other countries feel about our administration of justice.
They had no hand in crafting our Constitution. They are neither bound by our laws, nor have they sent men and women to die in defense of our laws.
And they're not alone. President Obama's nominee for top legal dog at the State Department, Harold Koh, believes that Islamic sharia law could be applied in American jurisdictions in "appropriate cases." Koh, ex-dean at Yale law, is presumably a very smart man. But there is something frighteningly wrong about someone who thinks that there are "appropriate cases" in which a system of laws that regularly dehumanizes women and relegates them to a lower caste could have any relevance whatsoever in this country. (It's one thing for the archbishop of Canterbury to have those crazy thoughts. It's quite another for a Yalie to agree.)
I've handled asylum cases for women who have been persecuted under sharia, and I'd love to see how Ginsburg or Koh would look them in the face and say, "We think it's important to understand the legal justification for the mutilation of your vagina or why you risked stoning because of that unfortunate disagreement with your husband."
You might say that Ginsburg and her like-minded legal circle would never sanction violence against women. True. But trying to incorporate foreign legal principles into our system at the whim of the legal elites in some misguided attempt to be liked in foreign legal circles sends the message that we don't believe that our system merits any special regard. And that's a very dangerous sort of modesty because if the democratic processes of this country don't shape our legal system, it basically answers to no one but some internationalist Ivy Lea-
guers in Washington.
Of course, there's a huge difference between recognizing sharia and giving a nod to the Canadian or European systems.
But where do we draw the line? Even in those supposedly advanced sister systems, you can be charged with a hate crime for merely having a Bible-based view of homosexuality. Or, as Mark Steyn was, crucified for writing a critical but truthful book about radical Islam. (And until the accusing agency was ridiculed into dropping the charges, truth was no defense.)
SCARY. Ginsburg asked, "Why shouldn't we look to the wisdom of a judge from abroad with at least as much ease as we would read a law-review article written by a professor?"
Uh, well, because the article is interpreting our laws based on our Constitution. Those foreign judges may not even understand English, let alone recognize the intricacies of our due process and equal protection. But what does that matter if we get to hold hands and sing "Kumbaya"? *