In 2004, the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled that 51 Mexicans on death row in the United States were entitled to “review and reconsideration” of their claims that their rights under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations had been violated.
The convention requires that arrested foreigners be told of their right to speak with consular officials. If asked, local officials must contact the appropriate consulate. Both actions, the convention says, must be taken “without delay.”
The international court added that American courts performing the required review and reconsideration could not rely on a doctrine known as procedural default to decline to hear arguments not raised at trial. That is at odds with recent death penalty jurisprudence in the United States and with state and federal laws that limit what kinds of arguments may be made if they are not raised early on.
When the question of whether the international tribunal’s ruling must be followed reached the United States Supreme Court last year, President Bush issued a memorandum to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales directing state courts to abide by the decision of the tribunal.
November 16, 2006
"The president has exceeded his constitutional authority by intruding into the independent powers of the judiciary."
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals brushes off President Bush and the International Court of Justice in The Hague.