Return to Missouri v. Holland

A Symposium on Federalism & International Law

Missouri Law Review

Symposium 2008

February 15-16, 2008


In the 1920 case Missouri v. Holland, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes famously declared, "We must consider what this country has become in considering what [the Tenth] Amendment has reserved." The Supreme Court upheld the federal government's ability to regulate, through exercise of the Treaty Power, activity that otherwise would be reserved to the states. During the era when the Court adopted an expansive view of Congress' ability to regulate through the Commerce Clause, the import of Missouri v. Holland receded. But as the Court has increasingly cabined the scope of the Commerce Clause, and in a world where everything from the death penalty, to greenhouse gas emissions, to access to medical care has become the subject of multilateral treaty regimes, the ability of the federal government to invoke the Treaty Power in regulating the states is once again central to discussions of federalism in the United States.

This gathering of scholars will reexamine Missouri v. Holland and explore the intersection of federalism and international law from a variety of perspectives. The papers and commentary will address, among other topics, the following: Has increased global regulation altered the relationship between the states and the federal government in such a way as to require a fundamental reconsideration of Missouri v. Holland? Given the range of regulation now delegated to international organizations and courts, does federalism provide any limitations on the federal government's foreign affairs powers? In a system of dual sovereignty, what are the limitations on state participation in international law making in areas such as the environment and human rights? What are the implications of multiple layers of governance for the development of domestic and international law?

View Brochure (PDF)

Questions? Please contact Robyn Nichols at 573-882-6381, or


Friday, February 15

8:00 a.m.

Continental Breakfast at Law School

8:30 a.m.

Symposium Welcome
Dean Larry Dessem, Univ. of Missouri School of Law

Peggy McGuinness, Univ. of Missouri School of Law

8:45 - 10:30 a.m.

Panel 1: Missouri v. Holland: The Treaty Power, Legislative Powers and the Tenth Amendment


Carlos Vazquez, Georgetown University Law Center
W(h)ither Missouri v. Holland?

Edward T. Swaine, George Washington Law School
Putting Missouri v. Holland on the Map.

Michael Ramsey, University of San Diego Law School
Missouri v. Holland and Historical Textualism

David Golove, New York University Law School

Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz, Georgetown University Law Center

10:30 a.m.

Coffee Break

10:45 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.

Panel 2: States as International Law Makers

Paul Stephan, University of Virginia Law School
What Story Got Wrong

Duncan Hollis, Temple University Law School
Unpacking the Compact Clause

Julian Ku, Hofstra Law School
[Title TBD]

Janet Levit, Interim Dean, Tulsa Law School

David P. Stewart, State Department

2:00 p.m.

Nelson Lecture and Keynote
Judith Resnik, Yale Law School
The Internationalism of American Federalism

3:00 p.m.

Coffee Break

3:15 - 4:45 p.m.

Panel 3: International Law and Inter-systemic Governance

Robert Ahdieh, Emory Law School/Princeton University
The New Federalism and New Voices in International Law

Paul Schiff Berman, Univ. of Connecticut Law School
Federalism and International Law Through the Lens of Legal Pluralism

Ilya Somin, George Mason Law School
Tiebout Goes Global: International Migration as a Tool for Voting With Your Feet

Peter Spiro, Temple University Law School

Peggy McGuinness, Univ. of Missouri School of Law

Saturday, February 16

7:30 a.m.

Continental Breakfast at the Law School

8:00 - 10:00 a.m.

Roundtable Discussion and Wrap-up