Constitutional Law, International Law, and the State

Many international law scholars are skeptical about the efficacy of international law to shape state behavior—and even international law's reality as law—because it lacks a centralized hierarchical legislature, executive branch, or judiciary. In his new book, “Law for Leviathan: Constitutional Law, International Law, and the State,” Daryl Levinson of NYU Law School challenges this conception of international law by arguing that it is structurally similar to domestic constitutional law in its ability to constrain states and in its strategies for doing so. 

Jack Goldsmith sat down with Levinson to discuss the challenge of regulating the state through both international law and constitutional law and what constitutional law theory can learn from international relations theory about how this happens. They also discussed how IR balance of power theory is like Madison's conception of constitutionalism, the implications for his theory for understanding how to hold states accountable for illegal action, and how to think about these ideas in light of the ostensible waning of state power in the modern era.

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