Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The USA - international treaties - we don't need to abide by them

The USA again ignores international treaties and international law

Mexico, which has no death penalty, sued the United States in the world court in 2003. Mexico and other opponents of capital punishment have sought to use the world court to fight for foreigners facing execution in the U.S. The international court ruled in 2004 that the convictions of Medellin and 50 other Mexicans on death row around the United States violated the 1963 Vienna Convention, which provides that people arrested abroad be given access to their home country's consular officials. The International Court of Justice, also known as the world court, said the Mexican prisoners should have new court hearings to determine whether the violation affected their cases. That treaty requires that foreign nationals arrested in a signatory country be allowed to meet with a consular official from their home country. It's a tool treasured by diplomats, American and otherwise, worldwide.There is no dispute that the Mexicans on Death Row were't notified of their treaty rights when arrested . The US has since withdrawn from the part of the Vienna Convention that gives the ICJ the final say if foreign citizens say they were illegally denied access to diplomatic representation when arrested abroad.

But the Supreme Court that Texas could ignore the international court's ruling in favor of granting new hearings. The Bush administration claimed a memo signed by Bush had the force of federal law on the state, ordering it to set aside Medellin's conviction. In the opinion released today, it's clear the majority of the court didn't buy that. Moreover, the court seems to suggest that the United States' international treaty obligations don't obligate the country to do very much.The six-justice majority held that the treaties involved were not "self-executing," meaning they required an act of Congress to implement its obligations and give them the force of federal law.

Mexico's foreign relations department said it presented an official letter to the State Department on Monday asking the U.S. to obey the world court's ruling.
"Mexican authorities lament that the Supreme Court's decision has had a negative effect on the cases of seven other Mexicans sentenced to death in Texas," the department said in a statement. "Mexico seeks to guarantee the rights of its citizens on death row ... with the goal of achieving the review and reconsideration of their sentences."

Despite plain language in the U.S. Constitution, which reads, "All Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby." The treaty, which had been signed by the president but not ratified by Congress, did not overrule state law . Chief Justice John Roberts, in telling the president he could not over-rule state courts and order that cases be revisited decided that international treaties are binding only if the treaty clearly says they are or if legislation is passed making them binding. Roberts echoed isolationist sentiments , saying the high court's decision "protects our judiciary from interference by foreign courts."

"Having given its word, the United States should keep its word," Donovan said the lawyer who argued the case on behalf of Medeillin .
Justices Breyer , Ginsberg , and Soutar agree. The court had misread the supremacy clause of the Constitution, which says properly ratified treaties "shall be the supreme law of the land" and that the treaties at issue did not need to be implemented by congressional legislation. "As a result, the nation may well break its word even though the president seeks to live up to that word and Congress has done nothing to suggest the contrary," Breyer wrote.

Just how would America react if the shoe was on the other foot ?


Renegade Eye said...

I think you know the answer to the question posed in the last paragraph.

Good post.

Jimmy said...

Correct! Dubya would send in the Heavy Squad!!

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