Curriculum Guide · Courses
Treaties and the Constitution: New Directions
Professor Seidman & Haines
LL.M Seminar 875 (cross-listed) | 1 credit hours
The international community today relies heavily on multilateral treaties to articulate norms of international law, and those treaties cover more subjects in greater detail, in such disparate areas as human rights, global health, trade, commercial and business law, the environment, litigation, arbitration, national security and private international law. How are these norms to be incorporated into domestic law? In the United States, this question turns on an understanding of the treaty power and how it affects our federal system of governance. Are there any constraints on the ability of the U.S. to join such treaties? Can Congress enact legislation to implement a treaty even if it lacks the power to enact the same legislation without a treaty? To what extent can treaties be used to change state law? This course offers an intense look at the current debate over the reach of the treaty power and the problems that arise in the U.S. system in comparison to other legal systems. After gaining a brief historical perspective, including a survey of Supreme Court jurisprudence on the treaty power, we will examine the various mechanisms available for the implementation of treaties, discuss the “self-executing” vs. “non-self-executing” dichotomy, and consider possible alternatives in the context of contemporary examples.
Prerequisite: Constitutional Law I. Recommended: Some familiarity with international law and U.S. constitutional law would be helpful but is not required.