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American Journal of Comparative Law



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This Article discusses the relationship in U.S. law between State, Federal, and international authorities on universal human rights. All U.S. State constitutions and the Federal Constitution recognize the "inherent" or "inalienable" rights of humanity. Yet despite having long accepted the binding force of universal human rights, U.S. courts and public officials have been hesitant to recognize non-U.S. authorities when identifying, interpreting, or enforcing these rights in practice. The U.S. government and courts view most international treaties and declarations concerning universal human rights as simple restatements of existing constitutional guarantees. U.S. courts and public officials have generally weighed foreign evidence of the requirements of universal human rights according to the legitimacy, importance, and probative value of the source. The undemocratic and illiberal nature of many international institutions makes it unlikely that the U.S. Federal or State legal systems will cede final control over such questions to non-U.S. or multinational authorities at any time in the near future.

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