The Court and the World

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44 Ratings

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5 out of 5 stars
By Philo on 09-25-15

Thoughtful, not very actionable or racy

But who would expect "racy" from this author? This is a book whose time has come, and a very welcome addition to support our evolving thinking about the (ever-more-sprawlingly-networked) world and the USA's place in it. I agree wholeheartedly with the basic thesis that judges cannot erect an artificial set of blinders preventing them from looking at various extraterritorial sources (and impacts) in today's world. And this introduces its own problems, such as the quality of information coming in for consideration, versus, say, the classic model of evidence developed in a fully adversarial court situated here. But I am ready to think the judiciary is smart enough to sort this out, and weigh things suitably. And the litigating parties have incentives to be sure the inputs from abroad to the courts are balanced.
I appreciate the case histories here -- as a professor in this field.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Jean on 09-24-15


This book is not an autobiography but a discussion of a long term controversy in law. Breyer discuss the question, does foreign law have a place in interpreting the American Constitution? Four of Breyer’s eight fellow justices say no. They are Chief Justice John Roberts and associate Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. They see it as a threat to the country’s tradition of democratic self governance on the other side, Breyer and three of his colleagues Ruth B. Ginsburg, Anthony Kennedy and Elena Kagan have explicitly endorsed some version of the practice.

Breyer contends that events in the world have affectively resolved the foreign law controversy. He presents cases and discusses the various implications over who has jurisdiction and where laws or regulations overlap or whose laws applied to the cases these cases cover everything from copyright law to trade agreements and also multinational corporation.

Breyer states that our increasingly interconnected world and globalization has made engagement with foreign laws and international affairs simply unavoidable. Breyer says judges need to understand and engage with foreign and international law to do otherwise is to try to navigate the globe with a blindfold. Breyer notes that transnational organization have already begun to produce regulations in areas as diverse as banking supervision, trucking and internet domain name registration. Breyer says in democracies courts specialize in problem solving. Judicial isolationism would make it more difficult for judges to address the kinds of problems we need to solve in the ever small world of the 21st century. After reading this book I see the need for the United Nations to add a World Supreme Court to solve international legal problems. Justice Breyer narrated his own book.

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3 of 5 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Brian on 03-11-17

Though provoking in first chapter & last two

Extensive legal detail May be more valuable to someone with a greater law background and I have. However the points made in the last two chapters can apply, I think, to how we should view the other branches of our government: executive and legislative. Breyer congratulates not only our separation of powers, but also how we have learned over 200 years to peacefully accept today's judgments, laws, and executive actions, knowing that we have a structure that allows for change "tomorrow". Breyer's presentation of our history shows that our governmental pendulum can to swing from side to side; and at the same time be flexible enough to let us constantly move forward.

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5 out of 5 stars
By Elizabeth on 10-17-16

Narrated by the same author

What made the experience of listening to The Court and the World the most enjoyable?

I am rating here the audio version of the book. The book itself is a great book, but the audiobook has the added advantage of being narrated by its own author. Many good books get ruined in the audio version because of the narrator’s voice. But Justice Breyer happens to have a pleasant voice, with a clear diction and a didactic delivery. It is as if you were listening to him teaching a class.

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