West Germany’s 1949 Constitution dedicated the country to peace and made international law an “integral part” of domestic law. This was, in part, a penance for just a few years earlier being a dangerous and deadly rogue state.
While the United States today is a far cry from Nazi Germany, it has nonetheless proved itself to be a threat to world peace, blatantly and regularly violating international rules or letting its lawyers twist limits on war into licenses to strike.
An amendment to our Constitution modeled on Germany’s could be a start for America’s atonement, by counseling prudence and placing constraints so the country cannot launch disastrous wars of choice as easily or send drones or special forces practically anywhere for deadly missions. It could also offer protections to Americans as well: While the parents of young Black men killed by police have traveled to speak before the United Nations in Geneva to decry violations of international standards on the streets of our cities, no legal appeal to those standards is possible in our courts.
In fact, what respect American law paid to international law has weakened lately, with conservative Supreme Court justices taking the country even more fully outside international norms by making them ever harder to invoke in our judicial system. Justice Antonin Scalia went so far as to denounce those who invoked such norms as merely examples to consider here.