American exceptionalism

Over at the NY Times, Adam Liptak has been writing occasional articles exploring how the American legal system and its conception of rights differs from those in other western countries. In the two articles I’ve read so far, his case studies come from Canada.

Some people have fretted to me that the NY Times is pointing out that the US is out-of-synch and implying it should get with the program. But to me the articles provide the context that helps explain the growing resistance in the US to sign on to various international legal regimes — and the recent efforts to discourage judges from citing foreign case law in constitutional matters. Such efforts were driven initially by conservative legislators worried about “importing” foreign jurisprudence sympathetic to gay marriage or hostile to the death penalty, for example. But I will be watching to see whether the critique draws more liberal adherents when issues such as free speech and the admissability of tainted evidence in criminal trials become implicated.

Today: NYT: Should Criminals Go Free When Police Blunder

June 12: NYT: Unlike others, US Defends Freedom to Offend in Speech

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