In a landmark decision at the intersection of state, federal and international law, the Supreme Court ruled yesterday that neither the World Court nor President Bush can mess with Texas when it comes to that state’s enforcement of its own criminal laws, Legal Times reports. In a 6-3 decision that drew strong reaction on both sides, the court said that neither the international court nor a Bush directive aimed at enforcing a consular rights treaty signed by the U.S. amounted to “enforceable federal law” that could be imposed on Texas.
The World Court told Texas in 2004 to review state convictions of 51 Mexican nationals who hadn’t been informed of their rights under the treaty to seek legal assistance from the Mexican consulate. Bush had said he would meet the treaty obligations by “having state courts give effect” to the World Court ruling. Bush’s appointee as chief justice, John Roberts Jr., wrote the ruling against both Bush and the World Court. The decision allows Bush to portray himself as an internationalist who wanted to meet treaty obligations but was thwarted by a court intent on curbing executive power. Roberts said the treaty fit into a category of agreements that are not “self-executing,” meaning that they need further action by Congress. Dissenter Stephen Breyer said the ruling would “threaten the application of provisions in many existing commercial and other treaties and make it more difficult to negotiate new ones.”