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April 27, 2005

The fickle Supreme Court

Someone explain to me why the Supreme Court considers foreign laws important when it comes to deciding whether someone who commits a horrendous murder the day before their eighteenth birthday should be executed, but not whether someone who's violated the law in a foreign country should be able to buy a gun here.

Coverage: The Narrow

Posted by Danny Carlton at April 27, 2005 03:31 PM

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Can do. There are two distinctly different kinds of laws at issue in the two cases. In the gun cases, we're not sure whether the procedural laws guarantee a fair trial.

In other cases where foreign law is consulted (commercial shipping law, most prominently), we're looking at substantive law: which things are illegal, what certain terms mean, etc.

It's a pretty simple distinction, and a crucial one when it comes to sussing out whether procedural rights have been violated. It may sound like a fancy or silly distinction, but it's an ancient one.

Posted by: jpe at April 27, 2005 05:44 PM

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