Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor emphasized the increasing importance of international law during a speech Wednesday at the Georgetown University Law Center. O’Connor said that the Supreme Court’s cases today demand a more comprehensive understanding of overseas legal systems.

“The fates of nations are more closely intertwined than ever before,” she said.

O’Connor’s speech in the Tower Green section of the law center campus headlined a ceremony to formally open the law school’s new Eric E. Hotung International Law Building.

The event featured remarks from University President John J. DeGioia, law school Dean T. Alexander Aleinikoff and a benediction by Washington Archbishop Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

To a mixed crowd of law students, professors and diplomats, O’Connor said that new cases involve more complex international law issues, including the treatment of alien immigrants, the honoring of foreign judgments and the building of international consensus.

The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 indicate that “other parts of the world still do not recognize the rule of law,” she said.

Yet she said she was optimistic that through the advancement of international legal studies and through the power of international understanding, obstacles like Sept. 11 can be overcome.

To the delight of law students in attendance, O’Connor said that current world affairs dictated a need for more lawyers.

“The need for lawyers in these difficult times has not decreased but increased,” she said.

O’Connor also insisted that international law is no longer a field of study limited to trade lawyers and diplomats. She again pointed to the ever-growing global community and to six Supreme Court cases from the court’s last term that dealt with international issues.

O’Connor, whose speech lasted only 15 minutes, left time to praise the law school. She offered a host of laudable statistics regarding the school’s international focus and stated that the school was “situated to be the leading global law center in the country, and possibly the world.”

At the dedication ceremony prior to O’Connor’s speech, DeGioia thanked Hotung (C ’51, H ’86) for his generosity and Law School Dean Emeritus Judith Areen for her help in the project. All three later took part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the official opening of the new center.

The event marked the completion of the $60.7 million renovation of the law school campus. The project includes the new international law center building, a new fitness center and the creation of a green space and clock tower.

A new library, a mock Supreme Court chamber, and a lap pool are some of the new amenities now present at the downtown campus.

DeGioia proudly stated that the renovated campus is now “the most beautiful law school campus in the country.”

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