Last week, while researching another topic altogether, I was linked through the magic of Google's algorithms to an old Volokh Conspiracy post that discusses U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer's remarks of eight years ago to the American Bar Association, in which he defended his previous citations to the courts of foreign countries to back up his opinions. Justices Scalia and Thomas have been particularly snarky over the years in their criticisms of Breyer's use of foreign decisions, so, apparently, Breyer felt the need to justify his consulting the decisions of the highest courts of Botswana, Nepal, and the Planet Zardoz in his search for useful precedent.
Breyer thinks that his references to foreign courts aid the spread of the rule of law.
"To tell you the truth, in some of these countries, they're just trying to create these independent judicial systems to protect human rights, contracts. If we cite them sometimes -- not as binding, I promise, not as binding --well, that gives them a little boost sometimes . . . It sort of gives them a leg up for the rule of law."
As I thumb through my copy of the U.S. Constitution, looking for "giving a shout out to foreign courts" as an enumerated function of the judicial branch, and absorbing the overwhelming ego implicit in Breyer's observation, it dawns on me that this is a good notion, because there is one court that needs Breyer's help. A good court. A court on which I, personally, would be humbled and honored to serve.
That little green guy in the center? Brilliant, I tell ya', brilliant. But, as you can see, he needs a "boost" that only either the yellow pages for greater Los Angeles or a citation by the U.S. Supremes could give him. Sure, he's a little dude (2.2 feet, according to his official biography), but he's DEEP, man! Know what I mean?
"Powerful enough to defeat Sidious, you are not... Twisted by the Dark Side, young Skywalker has become. The boy you trained, gone he is... Consumed by Darth Vader."
Bottle THAT and sell it, Justice Breyer! You Supremes could make a frickin' fortune.
"Stare decisis, I do not employ. As I go along, up it I make."