Originally uploaded at SSRN.


The five opinions in Zivotofsky v. Kerry – four by the Supreme Court’s Republican-nominated Justices – exposed fault-lines over foreign relations law that have remained hidden in many of the Court’s other cases. This short essay, part of an AJIL Unbound Agora on the case, explores the most notable of these fissures – that between Justice Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion, and Chief Justice Roberts, who dissented. Their disagreement in this case highlights the two Justices’ very different visions of U.S. foreign relations law and reveals the dynamic that has defined the direction of the Court over the last ten years. The relationship between Justice Kennedy and Chief Justice Roberts has been the fulcrum on which the Court’s foreign relations opinions and posture has turned and is likely to turn for some time to come.