Chicago Journal of International Law


Long before 'Judge Wapner's Animal Court," commercial television broadcast a nature series perhaps equally relevant to the law-"The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau." The show was popular because of what it revealed about a world still mysterious to many of us. It also appealed, however, because it managed to maintain that air of mystery-the sense of a truly distinct world that could not be wholly disclosed, a sense conveyed even more plainly in the tites of Cousteau's Oscar- winning documentaries, "Le Monde du Silence" and "Le Monde sans Soleil." This theme undoubtedly owed a great deal to its narrator: more of an explorer, showman, and advocate than scientist, Cousteau had both a keen sense of drama and a healthy instinct for leaving the details to others. Cousteau's oceans come to mind, improbably enough, in contemplating the Supreme Court's approach to the world of foreign relations federalism. One of the field's attractions is that it looks so different from the rest of the law, partly because there simply isn't much real doctrine to worry about. If we have learned anything from the groundbreaking scholarship of the last five years, its that the most fiercely held shibboleths-including the orthodox view that the federal government holds a monopoly in external relations, and the complete vulnerability of states to the enforcement of international law in federal courts-have little binding precedent for or against them. The Supreme Court moved first from a period in which few cases seem to have arisen, to one in which it distinguished the world of foreign relations by issuing sweeping paeans to national power, and now to an era in which it says virtually nothing, leaving the little precedent to languish unexplained. [CONT]

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