The state that George W. Bush formerly governed says the president is attempting to impose on a sovereign state not only his will, but also the will of an international court that has no authority over U.S. criminal justice, reports the Washsington Post. The dispute will be aired today in the Supreme Court in a case that may test just how far the justices are prepared to push their recent interest in using international law as a source of authority for interpreting the U.S. Constitution and U.S. statutes. “The justices presumably took the case to clarify basic questions about the interface between international, federal and state law,” said law Prof. Lori Damrosch, of Columbia University.
At issue is the fate of 51 Mexicans who were convicted of murder and sentenced to death in Texas and other states without first having access to diplomats from their home country. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague has ruled that their rights under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations were violated, and that they are entitled to new hearings in Texas courts. Citing his constitutional power to set foreign policy, Bush told Texas courts to comply with the ICJ’s ruling by holding a hearing for one of the Mexicans, Jose Ernesto Medellin, a Houston gang member convicted in 1994 of raping and murdering two teenage girls in Houston. Texas officials say their ex-governor is trampling on Texas’s sovereignty.