By Erin Louise Palmer, Clerk, D.C. Court of Appeals & 2009 ACS Public Interest Fellow
On the third day of her confirmation hearings, then-Judge Sonia Sotomayor faced pointed questioning on her views on using international law in U.S. courts. She responded that:
[F]oreign law cannot be used as a holding or a precedent, or to bind or to influence the outcome of a legal decision interpreting the Constitution or American law that doesn't direct you to that law .... [T]he American legal system was structured not to use foreign law; it repeatedly underscored that foreign law could not be used as a holding, as precedent or to interpret the Constitution or the statutes.
She went on to say that although judges should not use international law "in the sense of compelling a result," international law serves to "build up a story of knowledge about legal thinking, about approaches that one might consider."