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2010-11 William Howard Taft Lecture on Constitutional Law

Thursday, January 20, 2011
12:15 pm - 1:15 pm
College of Law - Room 114

(View webcast)

Vicki C. Jackson
Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Law
Georgetown University Law Center
Thurgood Marshall Visiting Professor of Law (2010-11)
Harvard Law School

“To Endure for Ages to Come”: The U.S. Constitution in a Transnational Era

The Constitution, John Marshall famously wrote, was written “to endure for ages to come.” We are in a transnational age, in which foreign and international law relating to constitutional questions has grown and is increasingly accessible to U.S. lawyers and judges. Should the U.S. Court give more attention to foreign constitutional law, as Chief Justice Rehnquist suggested, extrajudicially, in 1989 and again in 1999? As transnational sources of law, foreign and international, have been invoked in controversial areas (the juvenile death penalty in Roper v Simmons, or the sodomy statute in Lawrence v Texas), some on the Court, in Congress and in the academy became increasingly alarmed, arguing that contemporary foreign law had no place in U.S. constitutional interpretation. The aim of this lecture is twofold. First, it will show that reference to foreign and international law in interpreting the Constitution has a long history in the Supreme Court. Second, it will show how careful consideration of such transnational sources may contribute to a better understanding of our own Constitution and of how it should be interpreted and applied to some of the difficult constitutional challenges of the 21st century.

Recent Publications

Constitutional Engagement In a Transnational Era (Oxford University Press, 2010)

Federal Courts Stories (co-editor with Judith Resnik) (Foundation Press, 2010)

Sovereignties–Federal, State and Tribal: The Story of Seminole Tribe (co-authored with Judith Resnik), in Federal Courts Stories (Foundation Press, October 2010)


J.D., Yale Law School, 1975. Editor, Yale Law Journal