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World Court Finds U.S. Guilty as Charged

The International Court of Justice at The Hague in the Netherlands ruled unanimously yesterday that the United States violated international law by failing to stop Texas from executing a Mexican national last summer, Lyle Denniston reports at SCOTUSblog. But Denniston says the court seemed to absolve the Supreme Court of any legal violation, even though it refused to block the execution.

Even while finding a breach by the U.S. government as a whole, the international court did not attach any legal consequences to that, and declined to take any action to keep the U.S. from committing another such violation in the future. The ICJ (popularly known as the “World Court”) split 11-1 in some part of the ruling, but all 12 judges — including the judge from the U.S., Thomas Buergenthal — supported the finding that the U.S. government failed in its duty.

The case had to do with Jose Ernesto Medellin, a Mexican national who was sentenced to death in Texas for murder. In 2004, the World Court ordered the U.S. to take steps to assure that foreign nationals facing execution were allowed an opportunity to show that denial of access to a diplomat from their native county harmed their cases. Last July, the World Court specifically ordered the U.S. not to allow Medellin's execution. But the Supreme Court ruled that the 2004 World Court decision was not binding and on Aug. 5, it declined to stop Texas from carrying out the execution. Medellin died that night.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on January 20, 2009 at 10:44 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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