The Beginnings of the Rule of Law in the International Trade System Despite U.S. Constitutional Constraints

This study focuses on the emergence of ROL in U.S. international trade policy, a development which merits closer examination for the following reasons. First, the United States must still be considered the leader in international trade policy, and a ROL order without the most important trading entity would make little sense. Second, the United States is probably the foremost proponent of instituting a ROL order in international trade, though, ironically, it may also be the prime culprit in adhering to certain power-ordered relationships. Third, it seems only fair, if not natural, to extend the United States’ domestic respect for the ROL to international relations. The exercise of such relations under a rule-oriented order brings these dealings much closer to the notions of “fairness” and “due process” that govern our domestic affairs. Fourth, the United States has also expressed interest in helping to foster ROL systems in foreign countries (although it has not always acted in this fashion). An international economic ROL system may help familiarize those countries with some of the institutions, procedures, and benefits (as well costs) of the ROL system. Finally, some argue that the development of U.S. constitutional doctrine profoundly impacts the evolution of other legal systems abroad. Therefore, the constitutional responses of the United States may be the most important of any nation’s for purposes of understanding national legal responses to trade liberalization.