Foreign legal precedents/Ausländische Rechtsprechung

In einem amerikanischen Artikel wird argumentiert, dass ausländisches Recht auf verschiedener Weise in amerikanische Urteile eingehen kann, dass ein ausländisches Urteil aber nicht als Präzedenzfall herhalten darf.

In legal affairs, Judge Richard Posner writes: ‘No Thanks, We Already Have Our Own Laws – The court should never view a foreign legal decision as a precedent in any way’

The article argues that it is OK to incorporate foreign law into American law:

bq. Suppose a judge happened to read a decision of the German Constitutional Court concerning the right to an abortion and found in it an argument against abortion (or perhaps facts about the motives for or procedures of abortion) that he hadn’t seen before and that he found persuasive. Suppose he wanted either to give credit where credit was due or simply to identify a source, because judges, like most other lawyers, are obsessive citers (a reflex designed to conceal the subjective and unstable character of much legal reasoning). Or the foreign decision might be material in a legal sense, for example, because of a choice-of-law provision in the contract on which the U.S. suit was based, or because the foreign decision was claimed to have a pre-emptive effect in a U.S. litigation. These would be cases in which foreign law was incorporated into American law.

Claims and defences may also be based on international law. But foreign decisions may not be used as precedents.

bq. Problems arise only when the foreign decision is believed to have some (even if quite attenuated) persuasive force in an American court merely by virtue of being the decision of a recognized legal tribunal. This occurs, in short, when it is treated as an authority, albeit not a controlling one, in a U.S. lawsuit even though the issue is purely local, such as whether abortion should be forbidden, or the execution of retarded murderers forbidden, or gay marriage allowed.

Posner goes into some detail on this.

bq. To know how much weight to give to, say, the decision of the German Constitutional Court in an abortion case, you would want to know such things as how the judges of that court are appointed and how German constitutional judges conceive of their role. You would especially want to know how German attitudes toward abortion have been shaped by peculiarities of German history, notably the abortion jurisprudence of the Weimar Republic, which is thought to have set the stage for some of Nazi Germany’s legal atrocities, such as involuntary euthanasia. And, speaking of history, it seems highly likely that the European rejection of the death penalty, which advocates of abolition in the United States cite as evidence for an emerging international consensus that ought to influence our Supreme Court, is related to two things: the past overuse of the penalty by European nations (think only of the executions for petty larceny in 18th-century England, the Reign of Terror in France, and the rampant employment of the death penalty by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union); and the less democratic cast of European politics, which makes elite opinion more likely to override public opinion there than in the United States. For example, public opinion in the United Kingdom supports the death penalty as strongly as public opinion in the United States does, yet Parliament repealed the death penalty (except for some military crimes) in 1965 and has since steadily refused to reconsider.

(Via The Curmudgeonly Clerk)

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