International Human Rights Law

Courthouse Steps: Hernandez v. Mesa - Podcast

International & National Security Law Podcast
Steven Giaier March 08, 2017

On February 21, the Supreme Court heard argument in Hernandez v. Mesa. In July of 2010, a 15-year-old adolescent named Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guereca and his friends were playing along a concrete structure on the border of the U.S. and Mexico. When Jesus Mesa, Jr., a U.S. Border Patrol Agent arrived, he detained one of the youths on the border, and shot and killed Hernandez, who was hiding behind a pillar of the Paso Del Norte Bridge on the Mexican side of the border. Hernandez’s parents sued Agent Mesa under the Fourth and Fifth Amendment for the use of unlawful and disproportionate force. Agent Mesa argued that the Fourth and Fifth Amendments did not apply because Hernandez was not a U.S. citizen.

The District Court found for Agent Mesa, while the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that the Fifth Amendment protections against deadly force applied but the Fourth Amendment did not, and that Agent Mesa should not receive qualified immunity. The main questions for the Supreme Court to answer are: Does the Fourth Amendment apply? Should qualified immunity apply to the border patrol agent? And can Agent Mesa make a Bivens claim?

Steve Giaier of the House Committee on Homeland Security attended oral argument and shared his perceptions.


  • Steven Giaier, Senior Counsel, House Committee on Homeland Security

The UNSCR 2334 Against Israel: What Is President Trump To Do? - Podcast

International & National Security Law Practice Group Podcast
Bernard Avishai, Orde Kittrie, Eugene Kontorovich January 30, 2017

Since the Obama administration abstained from the United Nations Security Council vote on Resolution 2334 that condemns Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem, there has been much speculation as to the force, effect, and consequence of this Resolution. There are many concerns, including that this United Nations declaration may enable boycotts of Israel and that the Palestinian government might attempt to utilize the pronouncement to bring Israel before the International Criminal Court. President Trump’s has stated that he intends to alter or blunt the instrument. What will be the effect of this United Nations censure, and what are the options available to President Trump? 


  • Prof. Bernard Avishai, Adjunct Professor of Business, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Visiting Professor of Government, Dartmouth College 
  • Prof. Orde Kittrie, Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Professor of Law, Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, Arizona State University
  • Prof. Eugene Kontovorich, Professor of Law, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law 

Will International Law Matter to the Trump Administration? - Event Audio/Video

International Law in the Trump Era: Expectations, Hopes, and Fears
John B. Bellinger, III, Rosa Brooks, David Stewart January 27, 2017

The Federalist Society's Practice Group and Student Divisions and the American Branch of the International Law Association (ABILA) are pleased to present a half-day conference on the future of international and national law under freshly inaugurated President Trump. This panel will feature a lively discussion between leading international lawyers the Hon. John Bellinger and Associate Dean and Professor Rosa Brooks about whether international law will matter to the new administration. The luncheon panel will be moderated by Professor David Stewart.

This panel was part of the conference on International Law in the Trump Era: Expectations, Hopes, and Fears held on January 23, 2017, at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, DC.

Luncheon Panel: Will International Law Matter to the Trump Administration?
12:30 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.

  • Hon. John B. Bellinger, III, former Legal Adviser, U.S. Department of State and the National Security Council
  • Prof. Rosa Brooks, Associate Dean, Graduate Programs & Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center
  • Moderator: Prof. David Stewart, President, American Branch of the International Law Association (ABILA)

Georgetown University Law Center
Washington, DC

Courthouse Steps: Ziglar v. Abbasi - Podcast

International & National Security Law Practice Group Podcast
January 27, 2017

Ziglar v. Abbasi is the result of over a decade of remands and appeals. The case was originally filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights on behalf of incarcerated Muslim, South Asian, and Arab non-citizens who were targeted after 9/11 by law enforcement as “terrorism suspects.” The defendants in the case, high level officials in the Bush administration, such as Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI director Robert Mueller, and low level detention officials, filed a motion to dismiss which was rejected by the in the District Court.

In 2009, the Supreme Court decided in Ashcroft v. Iqbal that government officials were not liable for discriminatory actions of their subordinates without evidence they directly ordered the actions. Meanwhile, five of the petitioners in Ziglar settled with the government, and the case was remanded to the District Court and amended. In 2010, the District Court granted a new motion of dismissal, but only for the high level officials. This dismissal was reversed by the Second Circuit and then the government petitioned the Supreme Court for review.

Professor Jamil Jaffer joined us to discuss the oral argument of this case, which was held on January 18.  


  • Prof. Jamil N. Jaffer, Adjunct Professor of Law and Director, Homeland and National Security Law Program, Antonin Scalia Law School and former Chief Counsel and Senior Advisor, Senate Foreign Relations Committee

The Second Annual Mike Lewis Memorial Podcast

International & National Security Law Practice Group Podcast
Steven G. Bradbury, Phillip Carter, Adam Klein January 25, 2017

In the summer of 2015, the Federalist Society lost a great friend with the passing of Professor Michael W. Lewis. Professor Lewis was a veteran, a scholar, and a loving father and husband. His specialties were in the areas of the law of armed conflict and International Humanitarian Law. Last year, the Mike Lewis Memorial Teleforum focused on the U.S. Department of Defense Law of War Manual. This year, our experts will discuss the White House Report on the Use of Force.

In December 2016, the Obama Administration released a comprehensive report on the "legal and policy frameworks" governing the use of military force.  The report sets forth the Obama Administration's view of the domestic and international legal bases for military operations against terrorist groups; the law of armed conflict and targeting in those operations; detention; civilian casualties; interrogation; and other related issues.  This Podcast analyzed the document's description of the applicable law, but also considered why the Obama Administration chose to release this unusual document at this point and what effect (if any) it will have on policy and practice going forward.


  • Mr. Steven G. Bradbury, Partner, Dechert LLP
  • Mr. Phillip Carter, Senior Fellow & Director of the Military, Veterans, and Society Program, Center for a New American Security
  • Adam Klein, Senior Fellow, Center for a New American Security