Monday, March 9, 2015


Professor Koh Joins Foreign Law Experts to File Amicus Brief in Support of Same-Sex Marriage

Sterling Professor of International Law Harold Hongju Koh and a group of foreign and comparative law experts have filed an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court in support of same-sex marriage. The brief outlines how the court’s upcoming ruling on four same-sex marriage cases will have widespread ramifications internationally in terms of personal freedom and human rights.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments on these cases on April 28, 2015, and the ruling could legalize same-sex marriage nationwide. Read the brief.

“Significantly, foreign states that permit marriage for same-sex couples have successfully balanced the rights of religious institutions with the rights of couples to take part in civil marriage,” states the brief. “Whatever countervailing ‘compelling governmental interest’ or parade of horribles opponents of equal marriage may have imagined simply have not materialized.”

The brief further describes how “a ruling that States may single out and deny same-sex couples the same marriage rights extended to opposite-sex couples would diminish U.S. leadership in the field of personal freedom and human rights.”

“The Court’s ruling in this case will affect whether the United States continues to be seen as a global leader in the robust defense of personal autonomy and human dignity,” the brief concludes.

Five other experts were named on the brief, including former International Court of Justice Judge Thomas Buergenthal of George Washington University Law School; Sarah H. Cleveland ’92 of Columbia Law School; Laurence R. Helfer of Duke University School of Law; Ryan Goodman ’99, of New York University School of Law; and Sujit Choudhry, Dean and Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley.

Professor Koh is one of the country’s leading experts in public and private international law, national security law, and human rights. From 1998 to 2001, he served as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. He first began teaching at Yale Law School in 1985 and served as its fifteenth dean from 2004 until 2009. From 2009 to 2013, he took leave as the Martin R. Flug ’55 Professor of International Law to join the State Department as Legal Adviser, service for which he received the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award. From 1993 to 2009, he was the Gerard C. & Bernice Latrobe Smith Professor of International Law at Yale Law School.