The U.S. is approaching a showdown over its commitment to the rule of international law: Texas has scheduled the execution of convicted killer and rapist Jose Medellin for next Tuesday. On July 14, the International Court of Justice at The Hague ordered the U.S. government to “take all measures necessary” to prevent the execution of Medellin and four other Mexicans awaiting execution dates in Texas. Medellin is in the custody of Texas authorities, not the federal government, and the Texas governor intends to push forward with the execution.
The Christian Science Monitor says the case highlights a heated debate over the relevance of international legal rulings in the U.S. justice system. “We don’t really care where you are from; if you commit a heinous and despicable crime you are going to face the ultimate penalty under our laws,” says Allison Castle, a spokeswoman for Texas Gov. Rick Perry. The U.S. Court cleared the way for Medellin’s execution, but that didn’t absolve the U.S. from compliance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. “There is no doubt that the U.S. has an international obligation here, and it sure looks like it won’t comply with it,” says Duncan Hollis, an international law expert at Temple University.