Case Briefs and Analyses: Treaties and Agreements

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This may be the very first time you will read a legal court case. Make sure to read each court case in its entirety as you do not know what the issues may be. During your readings, make notes of the important facts, history, decisions, and reasonings.

While these cases involve multiple legal issues, you should focus your attention on the Court’s interpretation of supremacy of and deference to the executive branch regarding its power to conduct foreign affairs.


Before attempting your case briefs, take a look at the example given in: Methodology for Legal Analysis (PDF). (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.Each brief should typically be no more than one typed page (two if double-spaced). Remember to use your own words in summarizing the case as this helps to assure you really understand what the case is about.

The brief for each case should contain: the case name and citation, the facts, the issue, the Court’s holding, and the Court’s reasoning. The reasoning will be broken down into the majority opinion and then any concurrences or dissents (though these may be more concise than the majority’s rationale).

In addition to the case briefs, write a paragraph or two discussing the evolution of the Court’s decisions and how the Court (through its interpretation of agreements, laws, and the Constitution) winds up playing a role in the formation of treaties and agreements.

  • For instance, consider whether the President has the inherent power under the Constitution to make decisions regarding foreign policy.
    • If so, is there any limitation on this power?
      • Should there be?
    • If not, what other methods should be utilized?
      • How much difference (by either of the other two branches of government) is the correct amount?

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