Congress's International Legal Discourse

2018-12-26T04:04:41Z (GMT) by Kevin L. Cope

Abstract Using an original dataset comprising thirty years of legislative histories of U.S. federal statutes, I show that, in debates over bills whose enactment might trigger international law violations, members of Congress urge international law compliance relatively often. The arguments are overwhelmingly supportive of international law and often phrased in legalistic terms. These findings imply that members of Congress are incentivized to take public pro-international law positions by international law-minded executive officials. The executive appears to use congressional international law discourse to boost the country's international credibility and strengthen the president's hand in making and enforcing future commitments.