US courts losing global influence

The World

What the European Court of Human Rights lacks in grandeur it makes up for in sheer size: no fewer than 20 judges stride in to hear today’s case. These proceedings center on whether the U.K. can use evidence against terror suspects that may have been obtained from torture in other countries. This British barrister admits his legal soul belongs to the U.S. he never hesitates to cite American rulings to back his arguments, and judges all over the world do the same, to seek both guidance and inspiration. But that British barrister believes that is changing. Some statistics suggest U.S. rulings are sliding down the ladder of influence abroad. One of the rising stars these days is the European Court of Human Rights in France. As judges around the world cite fewer and fewer U.S. rulings, they often cite this court. This registrar called it a point of pride. In fact the U.S. decline may be due to just evolution, as a new generation of courts are getting older and wiser. Some justices in Washington refuse to cite foreign law. Foreign constitutional courts also tend to cite law more liberally than the current U.S. Supreme Court. This analyst sees it as too politicized to wield the same legal influence it used to have, and he says that should concern Americans. His lament is for an era when the U.S. led the world in legal justice.

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