Supreme Count Justice Arthur J. Goldberg called last night for the United States to cease being a "delinquent in international law" by repealing the Connally Amendment and supporting the creation of an International Court of Human Rights.
By retaining the right under the Connally amendment to decide unilaterally which World Court decisions to accept, the Justice declared, this country betrays a "lack of confidence in the rule of law" which it has long championed in domestic legal theory.
Goldberg also attacked the whole doctrine of noninterference in internal affairs as a "reflection of the callousness of the present age." "Our country once took the lead in proclaiming the concept that human rights ought to be internationally protected," he declared. "It was only when we reacted in an isolationist fashion to the League of Nations that we began to march backwards."
The former Secretary of Labor noted that "we wrote our own Bill of Rights to be a binding document, something which could be enforced in court," and claimed that the U.S. would be "hypocritical" to oppose such enforcement of the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
"If rights are not to be enforced but instead appealed to the conscience of mankind, they don't mean very much," he claimed. The Associate Justice proposed that an international body be created, either by delegation to the International Court of Jusice or by special agreement, to hear those cases in which an individual charged that his rights had been infringed by his government.
At a reception following his Sanders Theatre speech, the Justice admitted that few countries could now be expected to adhere to such a court. He suggested, however, that if the United States took the lead in proposing such a body, there might be a change in present skeptical attitudes.
Goldberg told his Sanders audience that his proposal "would not be easy of achievement." He emphasized that it was a limited step, and that his court would not deal with economic problems or questions of disarmament. "It would assure world justice, not world peace; but we would at the same time be taking a real step toward peace," he claimed.
"Surely there is no one person who can be so dangerous to his society that his rights should be ignored," he maintained. There would therefore be little danger that any nation could be hurt by accepting the jurisdiction of an international body with the right to issue writs of habeas corpus.
Goldberg justified his plan for a new international tribunal by citing this country's long dedication to the concept of judicial review. He rejected the concept that all limitations on the legislative branch were anti-democratic and declared that judicial review "is the highest expression of democracy, not its derogation."
"It seems to me that it is the essence of a democratic society, and not its negation, that limitations are imposed to protect the democratic order. . . . The greatest feature of our Bill of Rights is that it commands, and does not merely express what ought to be.