Justice Antonin Scalia: Advocates of Using Foreign Law Ignore Abortion Decisions
by Steven Ertelt
January 7, 2010
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia recently spoke at a conference sponsored by the Mississippi College School of Law. There, he said activists who back the use of international law in the U.S. legal system are selective when they want to use it.
Scalia oppose the use of international law and decisions by foreign courts to interpret the Constitution.
"If there was any thought absolutely foreign to the founders of our country, surely it was the notion that we Americans should be governed the way Europeans are," he said, according to the Jackson Free Press newspaper.
"I dare say that few of us here would want our life or liberty subject to the disposition of French or Italian criminal justicenot because those systems are unjust, but because we think ours is better," the pro-life jurist added.
But Scalia says those who advocate using foreign law do so selectively and ignore how many foreign laws oppose abortion and foreign courts have issued decisions allowing pro-life laws and abortion restrictions.
"I will become a believer in the ingenuousness, though never the propriety, of the Court’s newfound respect for the wisdom of foreign minds when it applies that wisdom in the abortion cases," Scalia said, according to the Free Press.
The issue of international law and its usage in American courts was one that came up during the Senate consideration of recent Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.
Pro-life Sen. Tom Coburn questioned Sotomayor about comments she has made about relying on international law — which could be used to cement the so-called right to abortion further.
I will not use foreign law to interpret the Constitution or American statutes, Sotomayor pledged. I will use American law, constitutional law to interpret those laws except in the situations where American law directs a court.
Scalia also told the Mississippi College forum he is concerned about judicial activists who make a career out of serving on the courts.
He noted how he was an attorney in private practice and a professor for much of his career.
"Every aspect of your career broadens your outlook and the insights that you would have. It’s good for the Court to have people with varied backgrounds. One of the things I’m concerned about is that in recent years, nobody who has been appointed has come from another bench," Scalia said.
"It’s probably not good," he continued. "It’s leading us toward the European system. The big differences between our system and the European system are not what I am talking about here. … The big difference is the nature of the judges."
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