Supreme Court Smacks Bush, Mexicans, World Court
Posted by Ryan on March 25, 2008
The Supreme Court voted 6-3 today to strike down President Bush’s adherence to a 1963 International Treaty where aliens caught committing a crime must be aware that they are entitled to legal counsel/advice when tried in American courts. In today’s case, Medellin v. Texas (2008), the defendant argued that he was not made aware of this detail after his arrest (even though he submitted a hand-written confession after killing two girls in 1993). After Mexico sued the USA over the issue in 2003, the International Court of Justice in 2004 said that the Mexicans (fifty in all around the US) must be given a new trial if such counsel could affect their cases.
Today the Mexicans lost.
Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Thomas, Stevens, and Kennedy were in the majority who believed that:
The president may not “establish binding rules of decision that pre-empt contrary state law.” Neither does the treaty, by itself, require individual states to take action.
Breyer, Ruth Biddy, and Souter dissented citing the primacy of international treaties over American law:
“The nation may well break its word even though the president seeks to live up to that word,” wrote Breyer.
One of the points that Justice Stevens brings up is that Texas could, at any time, give Medellin a new trial. Yet he ruled with the majority because he believes that Texas may not be compelled to give him a new trial; Texas law taking precedent over the ICJ order which was being enforced by the chief executive in violation of state sovereignty.
I agree with this decision and appreciate how the court was defending federalism, states’ rights, and preventing a precedent whereby the World Court could on future occasions dictate what American courts and states can or cannot do.