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Supreme Court Declines to Cite Foreign Law

The Supreme Court of New Zealand, that is.  How Appealing points us to today's decision in Morse v. The Police.  Valerie Morse was charged with disorderly conduct for burning a New Zealand flag during Anzac Day celebrations in 2007 as a protest against that country's participation in the war in Afghanistan.  The judges deliver their opinions seriatim, discussing such things as the meaning of "offensive" in the disorderly conduct statute and the need to give the statute an interpretation consistent with the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act of 1990.

However, not a single judge thought it was necessary to discuss the foreign decisions of Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989) or United States v. Eichman, 496 U.S. 310 (1990).  That is correct.  The US Supreme Court's interpretation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution has no bearing on the legal question under consideration.  There is some discussion of Australian cases interpreting a very similar statute adopted at nearly the same time.  Under those circumstances, there is a reasonable inference they were intended to have similar meaning.

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