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Changes in International Law, 38 Annual Report of the American Bar Association 354 (1915)


Changes in international law, as they may occur from time to time, will always be of especial interest to the United States. We were the first power to recognize in the constitution of our government the existence of such a thing as international law, and the duty of enforcing it. That instrument, it will be recollected, declares that Congress shall have power to define and punish "offenses against the law of nations." Under this provision, our Supreme Court has said: "A right, secured by the law of nations to a nation or its people, is one the United States as the representatives of the nation are bound to protect." It is not necessary for Congress in passing a statute to punish an offense against that law, to declare it to be an offense against it. That it is such an offense is to be determined by reference to the law of nations itself. Congress simply gives it a further buttress.

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