MARCH 25, 2008
The Supreme Court has ruled that the president exceeded his authority when he ordered Texas to reopen the case of a Mexican gang member sentenced to death for raping and murdering two teenagers to appease an international court.
The renowned Mexican gang banger (Jose Medellin) and his cohorts raped two teenage girls in 1993 then murdered the victims and discarded their bodies in a wooded area to avoid being identified. Medellin was eventually arrested and read his Miranda rights before writing a detailed confession of the horrific crime.
In 2004 the International Court of Justice, based in the Hague Netherlands, ordered the United States to review the case—and that of 50 other Mexicans on death row—on the grounds that their Vienna Convention rights to talk to consular officers had been violated.
Catering to Mexico’s government, which fought for the review because it opposes capital punishment, President George W. Bush directed Texas to comply with the international court’s ruling to determine whether the violation of their consular rights caused the defendants any harm at trial or sentencing.
State officials refused and launched a battle for sovereignty that ended up on the High Court’s docket. In a 6-3 ruling issued today the Supreme Court sided with the Lone Star State, saying that the president should not have ordered it to comply with the World Court ruling mandating the review of the cases of Medellin and 50 other jailed Mexicans awaiting execution.
In its decision the Supreme Court said the international court decision cannot be forced upon states and that the president does not have the authority to order states to relax their criminal procedures to obey a World Court ruling.
Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts, who was appointed by Bush, said that neither a World Court decision requiring U.S. states to provide new review of criminal cases involving foreign nationals, nor a memo by President Bush seeking to enforce the World Court ruling, preempts state law restrictions on challenges to convictions.
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