David Sloss‘s book, The Death of Treaty Supremacy: An Invisible Constitutional Change has been awarded the 2017 American Society of International Law (ASIL) book award for creative scholarship.
In The Death of Treaty Supremacy: An Invisible Constitutional Change, Professor David Sloss explains – without casting aspersions—how lawyers and courts, not legislatures, effectively freed US states in practice from the requirement of complying with treaties. The volume speaks to the historically troubled relationship between domestic civil rights and international human rights, showing how this turn by the courts limited the reach of U.S. international law obligations to invalidate instances of domestic governmental discrimination, from post-World War II treatment of Japanese nationals to Southern Jim Crow. In this fascinating account, Professor Sloss further demonstrates how these jurisprudential moves led directly to the tragic tale of Mr. Medellin and the logical exposure of US travelers—including international lawyers reading this—to similar mistreatment abroad. The implications go well beyond consular assistance to the entire question of the position of the United States in a system of international law that, in other respects, it helped so much to build. This is a trenchant and powerful case study with profound implications for our understanding of the relationship between international and foreign relations law in the United States.