Dan E Stigall (US Department of Justice, Office of International Affairs),
International Law and Limitations on the Exercise of Extraterritorial Jurisdiction in US Domestic Law
In grappling with the need to address transnational issues in the context of a national legal system, domestic courts have increasingly looked to international legal principles, resulting in a level of penetration of international law in the national legal order. This Article explores the degree to which international law has permeated U.S. jurisprudence governing the exercise of extraterritorial jurisdiction over transnational criminal activity and the degree to which international law has been used by U.S. courts to limit or empower extraterritorial jurisdiction. Specific focus is given to the interrelationship between the limits imposed by international law, such as the “rule of reasonableness,” and due process limitations imposed by U.S. courts.
In reviewing a broad spectrum of U.S. judicial decisions, this Article demonstrates that the justifications for and against the exercise of extraterritorial jurisdiction in U.S jurisprudence are multifarious, revealing distinct analytical strata that are dependent upon the nature of the law being applied extraterritorially and the conduct regulated. For instance, regulatory laws impacting commercial markets have been made the subject of an analysis that is distinct from analysis applied to other forms of transnational criminal activity. Moreover, due to a split in U.S. jurisprudence, the analysis applied to that latter group of transnational crimes (those that do not impact international commercial markets), will further depend upon the judicial district.
This Article posits that the different approaches to these different sorts of legislation are entirely justifiable (and even logically necessary) due to the very obvious differences between civil actions involving U.S. antitrust law and criminal statutes that take on a transnational focus. Moreover, by understanding the role international law plays in each of these analyses, the similarities of the undergirding rationales, as well as the differences and potential dangers, policymakers and legal actors can work to clarify this otherwise discordant and fractured legal landscape and articulate a unified view of international law and limitations on the exercise of extraterritorial jurisdiction in U.S. domestic law.