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Bush Flip Flops on World Court Directive

by TChris

Here's a surprise: President Bush actually promised to pay attention to the International Court of Justice. That court wants state courts in the U.S. "to consider complaints by 51 Mexicans held on death row that they were denied their right to have Mexican officials notified."

In a memorandum to the attorney general dated Feb. 28, President Bush said he had determined "that the United States will discharge its international obligations under the decision of the International Court of Justice."

The administration will order state courts to review the 51 cases. This represents a change of position for the president, who until now has shown little regard for either the Vienna Convention (which requires a country that detains a foreign citizen to notify that individual of his right to seek the help of a consular officer) or the International Court, which ordered the review. The change of heart comes after the Supreme Court agreed to consider an appeal by Jose Medellin, a Mexican citizen sentenced to death in Texas. Background on the case is here, with links to information about the International Court's decision.

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  • Re: Bush Flip Flops on World Court Directive (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 12:11:50 PM EST
    As you may be aware there is considerable debate as to whether the president even has the power to do this. Most people who have taken Federal Courts say “no.” However, Talkleft really isn’t into these little picky points. (The people who say “yes” argue that under Youngstown, the president has the power to somehow leapfrog over constitutional federalism concepts when Congress is silent and the issue is really really important.) What the administration is trying to avoid (and you would have noticed this if you were not into politics) is the Supremes going to the merits of the issue, interpreting the VC, and ordering federal courts on habeas to apply the VC or state courts on direct to do so. They are doing this by saying “Supreme Court, you don’t have to order them to, because we concluded that they will do it.” Of course, they didn’t explain 1) why they would; and 2) what would happen if they didn’t.

    Re: Bush Flip Flops on World Court Directive (none / 0) (#2)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 02:29:38 PM EST
    As you may be aware there is considerable debate as to whether the president even has the power to do this.
    The President clearly, I would think (not having taken Federal Courts, yet), does not have the authority to order state courts to do anything. OTOH, the executive, IIRC, has the power to take custody of, hold, and deport aliens, criminal or not, governed only by federal law and notwithstanding any state process underway or completed, anyhow, and the President certainly has the power to require states to comply with US obligations under international law as a condition for not exercising that power with regard to the aliens in question. And, much as I dislike Bush, its about time someone in the US government stopped using dual sovereignty as an excuse for rendering US international agreements null in practice. I do find it odd that the NY Times just states baldly that the President's "constitutional authority" gives him the power to issue such orders to state courts. There certainly is nothing even touching on such a power in Article II, or anywhere else I can find in the Constitution.

    Re: Bush Flip Flops on World Court Directive (none / 0) (#3)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 04:32:19 PM EST
    So the president has the absolute power to remove an alien from state custody ? Can you cite me a case on this ? When else has the idea of “dual sovereignty” been used to render an international agreement void. Please provide specifics. If you can’t, I will have to conclude that you made it up. Anyway, Talkleft and others, by not doing the research into the murky state of the law on this issue fell for Bush’s brilliant trick. If the administration “wins” then the people on death row “lose” because it is probably impossible to force the states to vacate their own judgments. PS: Just in case you were wondering, if you talked about the Patriot Act without reading it, you are personally responsible for Bush’s victory. There is absolutely no excuse for doing that, but some people think it is acceptable behavior.

    Re: Bush Flip Flops on World Court Directive (none / 0) (#4)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 07:38:13 PM EST
    These are pretty heady days for the White House and its fellow travelers. In Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon, Ukraine, Egypt and even Saudi Arabia, movements for popular, democratic change seem to rule the day. The wisdom, rightness and prescience of the Bush Doctrine, they say, have been vindicated. In triumphant and self-congratulatory tones, the President and his allies are taking credit for the sweeping reform throughout the Middle East. President Bush proclaimed, “Freedom is on the march.” The National Review’s Rich Lowry crowed “Bush has put the United States in the right position to encourage and take advantage of democratic irruptions in the region.” And in Time, while “history has yet to yield a verdict on the final outcome”, Charles Krauthammer was not so cautious: “three cheers for the Bush Doctrine.” It’s too bad there’s no such thing. For conservatives, the Bush Doctrine is the Rorschach Test as foreign policy paradigm; apparently, it is whatever you see in it. Unfortunately, what the Bush Doctrine has become in the popular imagination is not what how it started life, and certainly not anything that its neoconservative champions would recognize as their own... For the full article, see: "The Myth of the Bush Doctrine"

    Re: Bush Flip Flops on World Court Directive (none / 0) (#5)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Mar 09, 2005 at 09:08:55 PM EST
    Well, if we're paying attention it sure won't be for long: the admnistration has just announced it's withdrawing from the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ over the Consular convention.