October 01, 2008

NYT: American Legal Influence is Waning

A recent article in the New York Times claims that American “legal influence is waning” in foreign courts around the world. The author examines how many legal experts seem to think that the unpopularity of American foreign policy, reluctance to utilize foreign court decisions, and an emergence of legal precedents in newly-formed democracies have all contributed to this decline.

One of the most interesting reasons cited also seems to be the activist culture of many foreign courts. Charles Fried, a law professor and former Reagan solicitor general, states: ‘“What we have had in the last 20 or 30 years…is an enormous coup d’état on the part of judiciaries everywhere — the European Court of Human Rights, Canada, South Africa, Israel.” In terms of judicial activism, he said, “they’ve lapped us.”’

Declining influence seems like a cheap price to pay for centrist courts.