Common law: Customary international law: Law of nations: Emer de Vattel
Adopting new causes of action may have been a “proper function for common-law courts,” but it is not appropriate “for federal tribunals” mindful of the limits of their constitutional authority. Alexander v. Sandoval, 532 U. S. 275, 287 (2001).
The dissent claims that Congress’s decision to give federal courts “jurisdiction over claims based on ‘the law of nations,’” necessarily implies the authority to develop that law. That does not follow. Federal courts have jurisdiction over all kinds of cases—for example, those arising under the law of torts or contracts. Yet following our decision in Erie R. Co. v. Tompkins, 304 U. S. 64 (1938), federal courts are generally no longer permitted to promulgate new federal common law causes of action in those areas. Id., at 75. I can see no reason to treat the law of nations differently. See Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain, 542 U. S. 692, 744–746 (2004) (Scalia, J., concurring in part and concurring in judgment).
You might wonder, for example, if the First Congress considered a “violation of the law of nations” to be a violation of, and thus “arise under,” federal law. But that does not seem likely. At the founding, the law of nations was considered a distinct “system of rules, deducible by natural reason, and established by universal consent among the civilized inhabitants of the world,” 4 Blackstone 66. While this Court has called international law “part of our law,” The Paquete Habana, 175 U. S. 677, 700 (1900), and a component of the “law of the land,” The Nereide, 9 Cranch 388, 423 (1815), that simply meant international law was no different than the law of torts or contracts—it was “part of the so-called general common law,” but not part of federal law. Sosa, 542 U. S., at 739–740 (opinion of Scalia, J.). See Bradley & Goldsmith, Customary International Law as Federal Common Law: A Critique of the Modern Position, 110 Harv. L. Rev. 815, 824, 849 850 (1997); see also Young, Sorting Out the Debate Over Customary International Law, 42 Va. J. Int’l L. 365, 374–375 (2002). The text of the Constitution appears to recognize just this distinction. Article I speaks of “Offences against the Law of Nations,” while both Article III and Article VI’s Supremacy Clause, which defines the scope of pre-emptive federal law, omit that phrase while referring to the “Laws of the United States.” Congress may act to bring provisions of international law into federal law, but they cannot find their way there on their own. “The law of nations is not embodied in any provision of the Constitution, nor in any treaty, act of Congress, or any authority, or commission derived from the United States.” Caperton v. Bowyer, 14 Wall. 216, 228 (1872).
(…) (As a leading treatise explained, a sovereign “ought not to suffer his subjects to molest the subjects of others, or to do them an injury, much less should he permit them audaciously to offend foreign powers.” E. de Vattel, 1 The Law of Nations, bk. II, §76, p. 145 (1760). Instead, the nation “ought to oblige the guilty to repair the damage, if that be possible, to inflict on him an exemplary punishment, or, in short, according to the nature of the case, and the circumstances attending it, to deliver him up to the offended state there to receive justice.” Ibid. A sovereign who “refuses to cause a reparation to be made of the damage caused by his subject, or to punish the guilty, or, in short, to deliver him up, renders himself in some measure an accomplice in the injury, and becomes responsible for it.” Id., §77, at 145).
(U.S.S.C., Apr. 24, 2018, Jesner v. Arab Bank, PLC, Docket No. 16-499, J. Gorsuch, concurring in part and concurring in the judgment)
Dans la présente "concurring opinion", le Juge Gorsuch expose que l'adoption de nouvelles voies de droit était l'une des fonctions des cours de Common law, mais que tel n'est pas le cas des cours fédérales : depuis la décision Erie v. Tompkins rendue en 1938, les cours fédérales ne sont de manière générale plus autorisées à établir de nouvelles voies de droit dans le domaine contractuel ou délictuel.
Suit une citation de Emer de Vattel.