In his book, The Court and the World: American Law and the New Global Realities (Knopf, 2015), Justice Stephen Breyer examines the ways in which foreign law and circumstances impact the Supreme Court. Many of Justice Breyer’s critics often disapprove of the Justice’s global outlook. In writing this book, Justice Breyer aims, in part, to put his critics’ anxieties about national sovereignty “in perspective.” So, what is the perspective of Justice Breyer?
Justice Breyer defines the Court and the World broadly, dividing the book into four categories: Part I examines how the Court can effectively protect basic liberties in the face of security threats; Part II focuses on statutory interpretation and asks: Can American statutes be understood to open the doors of American courts to foreign victims of human rights abuses? And what is the geographical reach of commercial statutes?; Part III considers how the Court interprets treaties that concern unfamiliar subjects; and Part IV looks at the extent to which exchanges between judges and lawyers of different nations help judges reach better decisions.
Justice Breyer backs up his main points with copious and detailed examples, making this book a valuable, if sometimes dry, resource. In fact, a casual book reviewer might be inclined to crack open a beer (Lagunitas … Born Yesterday… Fresh. Hoppy. Invigorating. However, this is a book review, not a beer review!) to get through the last 100 or so pages.