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    From John Jay to John Roberts: The Law of Nations in U.S. Courts

    The Washington Foreign Law Society


    From John Jay to John Roberts: The Law of Nations in U.S. Courts

    A mini course on Foreign Relations Law

    Tuesday, August 24th, 2021
    from 5:30 to 6:30 PM EST

    Following our May 12 program on international human rights, the Supreme Court decided Nestle v Doe, holding that the Alien Tort Statute does not support claims against U.S. corporations based on child slavery in foreign lands. Thomas Lee and Mark B. Feldman return to our platform to critique that decision and to discuss the role of customary international law as a rule of decision in U.S. courts from the time of George Washington to the present day.

    In recent years, judges and scholars have vigorously debated whether the Supreme Court was correct to state, in cases such as The Paquete Habana (1900), that customary international law is part of the law of the United States.  Influential voices argue that Congressional action is required to create a cause of action under international law.  That issue was of central concern to the Justices in Nestle, and will be debated by our panel.

    Registrants will receive a list of cases, and related publications, in which the Supreme Court has used international norms in deciding constitutional issues of U.S. foreign relations law.

    Michael Teodori, Eni SpA; Chair of Programs, Washington Foreign Law Society

    Mark B. Feldman, Georgetown Law
    Thomas Lee, Fordham Law


    Mark B. Feldman teaches foreign relations law at Georgetown.  As Deputy and Acting Legal Adviser (1974-81), Professor Feldman played a major role in drafting the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act and the Iran Claims Agreement.  He negotiated the UNESCO Convention on Cultural Property as well as U.S. maritime boundaries with Canada, Cuba and Mexico.  Professor Feldman issued the first State Department suggestion of immunity for a foreign official in 1976 and initiated the 1967 Alaska Treaty line as the maritime boundary with Russia. In private practice, Professor Feldman established the treaty exception to the federal act of state doctrine in the Kalamazoo Spice cases and chaired the ABA committee responsible for the 1988 amendments to the FSIA, including the arbitration exception. He advised Disney on arbitration procedures for its Park near Paris, and argued for the United States in the Gulf of Maine case at the ICJ. His work, publications and Congressional testimony are described at http://www.markfeldmaninternationallaw.com/new-page-2.


    Thomas Lee is the Leitner Family Professor of International Law at Fordham Law School. He is also Of Counsel at Hughes, Hubbard & Reed, adjunct professor at NYU School of Law, and a member of the ICSID Panel of Conciliators. He has written many articles about international law, U.S. foreign relations law, constitutional law, federal courts, and legal history. He has also been a visiting law professor at Columbia, Harvard, and the University of Virginia; US law adviser to the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Korea; and Special Counsel at the Department of Defense. Before his academic career, Lee clerked for Judge Michael Boudin of the First Circuit and Justice David Souter of the Supreme Court and served as a U.S. naval cryptology officer, mostly aboard submarines but also ashore in Korea, Japan, and with the National Security Agency.


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