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Posts by Curtis Bradley

Curtis Bradley is the William Van Alstyne Professor of Law, Professor of Public Policy Studies, and Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. He joined the Duke law faculty in 2005, after teaching at the University of Virginia and University of Colorado law schools. His courses include International Law, Foreign Relations Law, and Federal Courts. He was the founding co-director of Duke Law School’s Center for International and Comparative Law and serves on the executive board of Duke's Center on Law, Ethics, and National Security. Recently, he was appointed to serve as a Reporter on the American Law Institute's new Restatement project on The Foreign Relations Law of the United States. Full bio »

War Powers, Syria, and Non-Judicial Precedent

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Monday, September 2, 2013 at 7:21 AM

One claim that is being made about President Obama’s decision to seek congressional authorization for military action in Syria is that it is likely to weaken the authority of the presidency with respect to the use of force.  Peter Spiro contends, for example, that Obama’s action is “a watershed in the modern history of war . . .
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Bond v. United States and the Treaty Power Debate

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Sunday, January 27, 2013 at 10:40 PM

The Supreme Court recently agreed to hear an important case concerning the government’s foreign affairs powers, Bond v. United States.  That case, which involves a criminal prosecution under the Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act, raises fundamental issues about the relationship between the government’s authority to enter into treaties and constitutional principles of federalism.  I wrote . . .
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Terrorists, Pirates, and Drug Traffickers: Customary International Law and U.S. Criminal Prosecutions

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Friday, January 11, 2013 at 10:34 AM

As I discuss in my forthcoming book, International Law in the U.S. Legal System, regardless of whether customary international law has the status of self-executing federal law, it can play an important role in U.S. litigation.  The invocation of customary international law in civil suits brought under the Alien Tort Statute is of course well . . .
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Foreign Official Immunity in U.S. Courts Since Samantar

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Monday, December 17, 2012 at 6:51 AM

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit recently issued a decision that has the effect of both limiting political branch control over human rights suits against foreign officials while at the same time arguably increasing the need for such control.  In doing so, the decision highlights increasing tensions and uncertainties in the law about the . . .
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“War” and the Killing of Al-Awlaki

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Saturday, October 1, 2011 at 11:10 AM

The functional arguments in support of the killing of Al-Awlaki — that he posed substantial, verified threats to the United States and could not reasonably be apprehended and placed on trial — seem fairly strong. There is a different sort of argument, however, that I think obscures more than advances the analysis: that his killing . . .
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Is There Any Law in the Law of War Powers?

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Saturday, May 21, 2011 at 10:54 AM

There is much discussion today about the apparent decision of the Obama Administration to ignore the provision in the War Powers Resolution that requires that the President either terminate the use of military force or obtain congressional authorization after 60 days.  The President has stated in a letter that he would welcome a congressional authorization . . .
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Interesting Case Concerning the President’s Recognition Power

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011 at 1:37 PM

The Supreme Court recently granted review in a case, Zivotofsky v. Secretary of State, that concerns the scope of the President’s power to recognize foreign governments.  This case is the latest iteration of a recurring dispute between Congress and the Executive Branch over U.S. policy relating to Jerusalem.  Israel maintains that Jerusalem is its capital, . . .
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Obama’s Foreign Policy and the Imperial Presidency

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Monday, May 9, 2011 at 7:49 AM

Ross Douthat, a columnist for the New York Times, has an interesting op-ed today in which he notes that President Obama’s foreign policy is similar to that of President Bush’s but is subject to less of an institutional check, see here.  Douthat reasons that, because Republicans tend to agree with Obama’s aggressive and militaristic foreign . . .
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The Death of Bin Laden and the AUMF

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011 at 8:36 PM

In a recent post, Bobby raised the question of what impact, if any, Bin Laden’s death would have on the legal effect of the Authorization for Use of Military Force, or “AUMF.”  As I noted in a post earlier today, the killing of Bin Laden does not signify either the end of the conflict with . . .
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Reflections on Bin Laden’s Death

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011 at 10:16 AM

After giving myself a day to reflect on Bin Laden’s death, here are a few thoughts that occurred to me. First, the killing of Bin Laden is obviously a significant development in the conflict with Al Qaeda, and a major achievement for the Obama Administration.  Even if Bin Laden was no longer significant operationally, he . . .
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Lowering the Domestic Political Cost of Humanitarian Intervention

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011 at 12:10 PM

I have recently blogged about two issues:  whether congressional authorization is required as a constitutional matter for U.S. involvement in military operations such as the one in Libya, see here and here, and whether modern technology (such as unmanned drones) is making it easier to avoid thinking about the human cost of warfare, see here. . . .
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Unthinking Death

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Monday, April 25, 2011 at 10:21 AM

The press coverage today of the leaked files concerning the Guantanamo detainees provides a dramatic contrast with public discussions over the operations in Libya.  The focus on the detainees is agonizingly particularized and personal.  By contrast, we know nothing about the individuals who are being killed by U.S. military operations in Libya and probably never . . .
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Historical Practice and the “Intermediate” Position on War Powers

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Friday, April 22, 2011 at 8:54 AM

In my discussion earlier this week of some of the problems with relying on historical practice to support a constitutional claim of presidential authority to initiate military operations without congressional authorization, I focused on two broad positions in the war powers debate — a pro-Congress view and a pro-Executive view.  One might argue that there . . .
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Historical Practice in the War Powers Debate

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Thursday, April 21, 2011 at 7:20 AM

We at Duke University are initiating a year-long project  in which a number of us will be considering and discussing the relationship between law and custom.  In connection with that project, I have started thinking about the role of historical practice in debates over separation of powers, including in debates over the Constitution’s distribution of . . .
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