Taming Globalization: A Conversation with John Yoo


In this podcast, John Yoo discusses his new book, co-authored with Julian Ku, Taming Globalization: International Law, the U.S. Constitution, and the New World Order. Yoo focuses attention on the proliferating sources of international law in treaties, conventions, agreements, and customary international law that transnationalists believe should be more easily incorporated into America’s constitutional and domestic law. Yoo’s arguments, however, are not reactionary. After highlighting the constitutional and philosophical arguments made by transnationalists on behalf of this posture, Yoo discusses how the Constitution’s structure of separation of powers and federalism can be utilized in aiding America in the growing international legal environment by ensuring that the fundamental doctrines of the Constitution guide the process.

John Yoo

John Yoo is a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. He is the author of Point of Attack: Preventive War, International Law, and Global Welfare (Oxford University Press, 2014).

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  1. Diane says

    I think Mr. Yoo had a valid point about courts overruling state laws. If the citizens of Texas want to have “uncommonly silly laws”, it’s their right, as Justice Thomas said about their sodomy law that was used against consenting homosexual adults in their own homes.

    But, Mr. Yoo gave hardly any examples to support his claim that Americans are doomed to be subjected to foreign laws. In the sodomy case, the issue was about the Supreme Court overturning a state law and its own previous decision. Neither the old nor the new decisions were based on foreign law. Judges in both cases referred to western civilization practice as secondary support. Surely there is nothing wrong with judges keeping their eye on western civilization and trends. I think the Nazi judges were condemned at Nuremberg for not doing exactly that.

    Mr. Yoo mentioned a 1918 migratory bird protection law, based on an international treaty. Maybe that interferes with the God given right of Americans to shoot Canada geese who poop on their golf courses. I don’t know. If it does they should lobby Congress, but that’s an American law, not a foreign law, even if the birds are “aliens”.

    The other example was also not about imposing foreign law on Americans. It was about states refusing to honour international treaties, signed by the US, related to consular access of people arrested outside their home country. The US wants the advantage of that treaty for its own citizens abroad, but the states refuse to honour it. So far, the courts have refused to force them. The specific cases have hinged around the death penalty, because most countries, and almost all western countries object to it being used against their citizens and argue that if they were provided consular access and information about rights and procedures it might help.

    So, I’m sympathetic to the argument about states’ rights and interfering courts. People deserve the governments they elect and the laws they choose, however ludicrous. But I don’t see what any of this has to do with Americans being subjugated to foreign law. In fact, the US typically uses treaties and international institutions to impose its will on others, and ignores them, as it sees fit, since nobody can stop it. The US was instrumental in creating the system and plays a big role, when it suits its purpose, or ignores it when it doesn’t. What more does Mr. Yoo want?

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