Vejam segundo o texto enviado pelo Prof.Farlei Martins do "New York Times" de 18 de setembro de 2008, a perda de influência dos Estados Unidos (o que Nye denominaria de "soft power", em termos de sua ideologia, cultura,etc) alcança também a sua Corte Suprema.
Supreme Court's Global Influence Is Waning
By ADAM LIPTAK
WASHINGTON - Judges around the world have long looked to the decisions of
the United States Supreme Court for guidance, citing and often following
them in hundreds of their own rulings since the Second World War.
But now American legal influence is waning. Even as a debate continues in
the court over whether its decisions should ever cite foreign law, a
diminishing number of foreign courts seem to pay attention to the writings
of American justices.
"One of our great exports used to be constitutional law," said Anne-Marie
Slaughter, the dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International
Affairs at Princeton. "We are losing one of the greatest bully pulpits we
have ever had."
From 1990 through 2002, for instance, the Canadian Supreme Court cited
decisions of the United States Supreme Court about a dozen times a year, an
analysis by The New York Times found. In the six years since, the annual
citation rate has fallen by half, to about six.
Australian state supreme courts cited American decisions 208 times in 1995,
according to a recent study by Russell Smyth, an Australian economist. By
2005, the number had fallen to 72.
The story is similar around the globe, legal experts say, particularly in
cases involving human rights. These days, foreign courts in developed
democracies often cite the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights in
cases concerning equality, liberty and prohibitions against cruel treatment,
said Harold Hongju Koh, the dean of the Yale Law School. In those areas,
Dean Koh said, "they tend not to look to the rulings of the U.S. Supreme
The rise of new and sophisticated constitutional courts elsewhere is one
reason for the Supreme Court's fading influence, legal experts said. The new
courts are, moreover, generally more liberal that the Rehnquist and Roberts
courts and for that reason more inclined to cite one another.
Another reason is the diminished reputation of the United States in some
parts of the world, which experts here and abroad said is in part a
consequence of the Bush administration's unpopularity around the world.
Foreign courts are less apt to justify their decisions with citations to
cases from a nation unpopular with their domestic audience.
"It's not surprising, given our foreign policy in the last decade or so,
that American influence should be declining," said Thomas Ginsburg, who
teaches comparative and international law at the University of Chicago.
The adamant opposition of some Supreme Court justices to the citation of
foreign law in their own opinions also plays a role, some foreign judges
"Most justices of the United States Supreme Court do not cite foreign case
law in their judgments," Aharon Barak, then the chief justice of the Supreme
Court of Israel, wrote in the Harvard Law Review in 2002. "They fail to make
use of an important source of inspiration, one that enriches legal thinking,
makes law more creative, and strengthens the democratic ties and foundations
of different legal systems."
Partly as a consequence, Chief Justice Barak wrote, the United States
Supreme Court "is losing the central role it once had among courts in modern
Justice Michael Kirby of the High Court of Australia said that his court no
longer confines itself to considering English, Canadian and American law.
"Now we will take information from the Supreme Court of India, or the Court
of Appeal of New Zealand, or the Constitutional Court of South Africa," he
said in an interview published in 2001 in The Green Bag, a legal journal.
"America" he added, "is in danger of becoming something of a legal
The signature innovations of the American legal system - a written
Constitution, a Bill of Rights protecting individual freedoms and an
independent judiciary with the power to strike down legislation - have been
consciously emulated in much of the world. And American constitutional law
has been cited and discussed in countless decisions of courts in Australia,
Canada, Germany, India, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa and
In a 1996 decision striking down a law that made it a crime to possess
pornography, for instance, the Constitutional Court of South Africa
conducted a broad survey of American First Amendment jurisprudence, citing
some 40 decisions of the United States Supreme Court. That same year, the
High Court of Australia followed a 1989 decision of the Supreme Court in a
separation-of-powers case, ruling that a judge was permitted to prepare a
report for a government minister about threats to aboriginal areas because
the assignment did not undermine the integrity of the judicial branch.
Sending American ideas about the rule of law abroad has long been a source
of pride. "The United States Supreme Court is the oldest constitutional
court in the world - the most respected, the most legitimate," said Charles
Fried, a law professor at Harvard who served as solicitor general in the
But there is an intense and growing debate about whether that influence
should be a one-way street.
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, in a speech before her retirement from the
Supreme Court, advocated taking as well as giving.
"I suspect that with time we will rely increasingly on international and
foreign law in resolving what now appear to be domestic issues," Justice O'Connor
said. "Doing so may not only enrich our own country's decisions; it will
create that all important good impression. When U.S. courts are seen to be
cognizant of other judicial systems, our ability to act as a rule-of-law
model for other nations will be enhanced."
But many judges and legal scholars in this country say that consideration of
foreign legal precedents in American judicial decisions is illegitimate, and
that there can be no transnational dialogue about the meaning of the United
The Constitution should be interpreted according to its original meaning,
said John O. McGinnis, a law professor at Northwestern, and recent rulings,
whether foreign or domestic, cannot aid in that enterprise. Moreover,
Professor McGinnis said, decisions applying foreign law to foreign
circumstances are not instructive here.
"It may be good in their nation," he said. "There is no reason to believe
necessarily that it's good in our nation."
In any event, said Eric Posner, a law professor at the University of
Chicago, many Americans are deeply suspicious of foreign law.
"We are used to encouraging other countries to adopt American constitutional
norms, " he wrote in an essay last month, "but we have never accepted the
idea that we should adopt theirs."
"It's American exceptionalism," Professor Posner added in an interview. "The
view going back 200 years is that we've figured it out and people should
follow our lead."
Yet citations to foreign and international law in recent Supreme Court
decisions ignited an enormous furor in Congress and in the popular
"The opinion of the world community," Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for
the majority in Roper v. Simmons, the 2005 decision that struck down the
death penalty for juvenile offenders, "while not controlling our outcome,
does provide respected and significant confirmation for our own
conclusions." Justice Kennedy cited, among other things, the United Nations
Convention on the Rights of the Child, the African Charter on the Rights and
Welfare of the Child, and the Criminal Justice Act from the United Kingdom.
In Lawrence v. Texas, the 2003 decision striking down a Texas law making
homosexual sex a crime, Justice Kennedy cited three decisions of the
European Court of Human Rights, noting that homosexual conduct is accepted
as "an integral part of human freedom" in many countries.
Justice Antonin Scalia, dissenting in Roper v. Simmons, fired back. "The
basic premise of the court's argument - that American law should conform to
the laws of the rest of the world - ought to be rejected out of hand," he
The issue has rankled Justice Kennedy. "There's kind of a know-nothing
quality to the debate, it seems to me, of being suspicious of foreign
things," he said in remarks at a judicial conference in July.
At their confirmation hearings, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and
Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. indicated that they were opposed to the citation
of foreign law in constitutional cases. Chief Justice Roberts noted that
foreign judges are not accountable to the American people and said that
allowing the use of foreign precedent expanded judicial discretion.
"Foreign law, you can find anything you want," Chief Justice Roberts said.
"Looking at foreign law for support is like looking out over a crowd and
picking out your friends."
The controversy over the citation of foreign law in American courts is
freighted with misconceptions. One is that there is something new or unusual
about citing foreign courts. The other is that to cite such a decision is to
be bound by it.
Even conservative scholars acknowledge that American judges have long cited
decisions by foreign courts in their rulings. "The Supreme Court has been
doing it for basically all of our history, and with some degree of gusto,"
said Stephen G. Calabresi, a law professor at Northwestern and a founder of
the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group. Professor Calabresi said
he generally opposed the citation of foreign law in constitutional cases.
Judicial citation or discussion of a foreign ruling does not, moreover,
convert it into binding precedent.
Chief Justice John Marshall, sitting as a circuit court judge, discussed the
question in 1811. "It has been said that the decisions of British courts,
made since the Revolution, are not authority in this country," he said. "I
admit it - but they are entitled to that respect which is due to the
opinions of wise men who have maturely studied the subject they decide."
Indeed, American judges cite all sorts of things in their decisions - law
review articles, song lyrics, television programs. State supreme courts cite
decisions from other states, though a decision from Wisconsin is no more
binding in Oregon than is one from Italy.
"Foreign opinions are not authoritative; they set no binding precedent for
the U.S. judge," Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in a 2006 address to the
Constitutional Court of South Africa. "But they can add to the story of
knowledge relevant to the solution of trying questions."
But Professor Fried said the area was a minefield. "Courts have been citing
foreign law forever, but sparingly, for very good reason," he said. "It is
an invitation to bolster conclusions reached on other grounds. It leads to
more impressionistic, undisciplined adjudication."
The trend abroad, moreover, is toward decisions of a distinctly liberal sort
in areas like the death penalty and gay rights. "What we have had in the
last 20 or 30 years," Professor Fried said, "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
The rightward shift of the Supreme Court may partly account for its
diminished influence. Twenty years ago, said Anthony Lester, a British
barrister, the landmark decisions of the court were "studied with as much
attention in New Delhi or Strasbourg as they are in Washington, D.C."
That is partly because the foundational legal documents of many of the world's
leading democracies are of quite recent vintage. The Indian Constitution was
adopted in 1949, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982, the
New Zealand Bill of Rights in 1990 and the South African Constitution in
1996. All drew on the American constitutional principles.
Particularly at first, courts in those nations relied on the constitutional
jurisprudence of the United States Supreme Court, both because it was
relevant and because it was the essentially the only game in town. But as
constitutional courts around the world developed their own bodies of
precedent and started an international judicial conversation, American
influence has dropped.
Judge Guido Calabresi of the federal appeals court in New York, a former
dean of Yale Law School, has advocated continued participation in that
international judicial conversation.
"Since World War II, many countries have adopted forms of judicial review,
which - though different from ours in many particulars - unmistakably draw
their origin and inspiration from American constitutional theory and
practice," he wrote in a 1995 concurrence that cited the German and Italian
"These countries are our 'constitutional offspring,' " Judge Calabresi
wrote, "and how they have dealt with problems analogous to ours can be very
useful to us when we face difficult constitutional issues. Wise parents do
not hesitate to learn from their children." (Judge Calabresi is Professor
The openness of some legal systems to foreign law is reflected in their
constitutions. The South African Constitution, for instance, says that
courts interpreting its bill of rights "must consider international law" and
"may consider foreign law." The constitutions of India and Spain have
Many legal scholars singled out the Canadian Supreme Court and the
Constitutional Court of South Africa as increasingly influential.
"In part, their influence may spring from the simple fact they are not
American," Dean Slaughter wrote in a 2005 essay, "which renders their
reasoning more politically palatable to domestic audience in an era of
extraordinary U.S. military, political, economic and cultural power and
Frederick Schauer, a law professor at the University of Virginia, wrote in a
2000 essay that the Canadian Supreme Court had been particularly influential
because "Canada, unlike the United States, is seen as reflecting an emerging
international consensus rather than existing as an outlier."
In New Zealand, for instance, Canadian decisions were cited far more often
than those of any other nation from 1990 to 2006 in civil rights cases,
according to a recent study in The Otago Law Review in Dunedin, New Zealand.
"As Canada's judges are, by most accounts, the most judicially activist in
the common-law world - the most willing to second-guess the decisions of the
elected legislatures - reliance on Canadian precedents will worry some and
delight others," the study's authors wrote.
American precedents were cited about half as often as Canadian ones. "It is
surprising," the authors wrote, "that American cases are not cited more
often, since the United States Bill of Rights precedents can be found on
just about any rights issue that comes up."
American popular attitudes toward the citation of foreign law, by contrast,
Mark C. Rahdert wrote in the American University Law Review last year, "tap
into a longstanding tradition of exceptionalism."
That tradition is rooted in a popular devotion to the Constitution unknown
in the rest of the world. It is supported by aspects of the American
character that were formed by the nation's initial geographic isolation and
pioneer spirit, which emphasized freedom, private property and individual
responsibility. That has led, for instance, to a near-absolute commitment to
free speech and a particularly tough approach to crime.
In " 'A Shining City on a Hill': American Exceptionalism and the Supreme
Court's Practice of Relying on Foreign Law," a 2006 article in the Boston
University Law Review, Professor Calabresi concluded that the Supreme Court
should be wary of citing foreign law in most constitutional cases precisely
because the United States is exceptional.
"Like it or not," he wrote, "Americans really are a special people with a
special ideology that sets us apart from all the other peoples."