March 25, 2008

Justice vs. Justices

Hatched by Dafydd

So today, the Supreme Court -- by a somewhat surprising 6-3 vote, with Justice John Paul Stevens in the majority (!) -- held that the President of the United States (that would be George W. Bush for a few more months) has no authority to order states to comply with elements of international treaties... in this case, with a ruling by the International Court of Justice at the Hague, a.k.a. the "World Court":

In a death-penalty case that has become an international issue, the Supreme Court declared on Tuesday that President Bush had no power to tell the State of Texas to reopen the case of a Mexican who has been condemned for murder and rape.

By 6 to 3, the court ruled that the president went too far in 2005, when he decreed that the states had to abide by a 2004 decision by the World Court. That decision found that several dozen Mexican citizens who had been sentenced to death in the United States had not been given the assistance from Mexican diplomats that they were entitled to receive under an international treaty.

It's interesting that nobody appears to be arguing that Jose E. Medellin and his fellow bangers might be innocent of kidnapping two teenaged girls -- Elizabeth Pena, 16, and Jennifer Ertman, 14 -- gang-raping them repeatedly, then murdering them so they couldn't identify their assailants; they just complain that Texas didn't tell him he had to right to chat with someone from the Mexican diplomatic mission, which is required by some treaty we signed.

From the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation:

Following the rapes, the men dragged the bleeding girls to a wooded area as they begged for their lives. Two men initially tried to strangle Jennifer with a belt wrapped around her neck with one pulling at each end. When the belt broke, they strangled her to death with a shoelace. Medellin later complained, “the bitch wouldn’t die,” and it would have been “easier with a gun.” Elizabeth was also strangled to death with her shoelaces. The murderers then divided money and jewelry taken from the girls and several joined Medellin at the home of one of the men’s brother and sister-in-law. There, they bragged about the rapes and murders. Medellin explained to the sister-in-law that the girls had been killed to prevent them from identifying him and his accomplices. A few days later, the couple reported the crime to police.

The Justices held that the president has only two sources for his power:

  • Legislation from Congress, which he is allowed (required) to enforce;
  • Plenary powers inherent in the office, according to the Constitution.

Since neither gave Bush authority to tell Texas to hold a new trial in this case, his order, which Texas ignored anyway, was null and void.

Naturally, I agree with this ruling; I thought Bush's original order was a craven surrender to the forces of leftism. But the real reason for this post is that I am truly anxious to see how liberals are going to turn this into an attack on President Bush.

I just know that somehow, his attempt to enforce "international law" at the expense of American sovereignty and of states' rights -- the rights of one of the original Confederate states, yet, his home state! -- will be twisted by some arcane mechanism into an indictment of Bush himself, not so much of the Court (that decision is given good blocking by the presence of Stevens in the majority).

We're currently accepting entries demonstrating how the liberal Left will use this as a stick to bash Bush. No lucicrous theories, please; give us realistic scenarios by which Democrats can argue that this really proves that Chimpy McBushitler is a racist, sexist, homophobe, or other kind of bigot.

Here is our own entry:

It figures that the top leader of the American patriarchy would go to such great lengths to free a rapist and womyn-killer; support for violence against womyn is exactly the sort of thing we've come to expect from misogynists like Bush.

Please post your own entries in the comments section.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 25, 2008, at the time of 4:40 PM

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The following hissed in response by: Geoman

In yet another in a seemingly endless string of setbacks for the Bush administration, the Supreme court harshly rebuked the Bush administrations inability to properly adhere to the rule of law.

This ruling follows closely on the setbacks of the Jose Padilla case, and other Guantanamo legal maneuvering.

The above hissed in response by: Geoman [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 25, 2008 5:06 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


Hm... lacks specificity. Let's see if we can get a really juicy spin that is specific, damning, and utterly shameless!


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 25, 2008 6:24 PM

The following hissed in response by: Mr. Michael

The far right Neo-Con George W. Bush Administration today failed in a simple exercise: Stand up for the Rule of Law and enforce the agreements that he, himself has signed.

The Bush Administration had argued before the Supreme Court that the State of Texas should run it's Court System according to the Rule of Law. In an astonishing decision today, the Supreme Court ruled against the Administration, allowing Texas to prosecute a Foreign Citizen without giving him access to his Embassy.

"You wonder how a thing like this can happen," explains Snidely Whiplash, a Constitutional Lawyer who has successfully plead cases in front of the Supreme Court, "but the Bush Administration's lawyers couldn't successfully argue their case. The Supreme Court Justices have to rule according to the evidence put before them, and the persuasiveness of the arguments. Whether or not it was a question of competence or just bad legal tactics, Bush's lawyers dropped the ball. The result was that a majority of the Justices had to rule for the other side." When asked if the Justice Department's attention had been distracted by the firing of Attorneys and the Alberto Gonzales debacle, sources tell CBS News that "of course that kind of thing is the case. If the disgraced Attorney General had not left the department in such a shambles, this kind of mistake would never have happened."

The above hissed in response by: Mr. Michael [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 25, 2008 7:37 PM

The following hissed in response by: Steven Den Beste

I'm not going to try to write it "in character" or with appropriate feigned scorn, but I think what we'll see is this:

Bush chose this case and pushed it because he wanted to lose it. The goal was to get a SCOTUS decision that the ICJ didn't have jurisdiction in the US. So this is all a big unilateralist plot, yet another of Bush's ways of alienating the rest of the world and distancing the US from the emerging global community.

The above hissed in response by: Steven Den Beste [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 25, 2008 10:38 PM

The following hissed in response by: wtanksleyjr

Claims of "unilateralist plot" are really too vague. Specifically, this should refer to the previously established understanding between Roberts, Bush, and Scalia whereby in return for nomination they enact Bush's horrific agenda.

Now, seriously, I'm a little confused by this ruling. I'm all in favor of executing murderers and/or rapists (and kidnappers, and...), but my understanding is that first, the Constitution holds that treaties are the "Supreme Law of the Land" next to the Constitution; and second, that the federal government has exclusive sovereignty over foreign affairs. Thus, if "we" were so stupid as to ratify a treaty empowering the ICC over our citizens, the US Constitution would render only limited protection (i.e. although "congress shall make no law", it can sign a treaty, and the executive can enforce it). Now, how can a mere state, which has no foreign policy authority whatsoever, trump a treaty obligation? If this means that states are not bound by federal treaties, it therefore means that most treaties with the United States are entirely unenforceable, since states are the most powerful actors.

I just don't understand how this is supposed to work.

I like the results in this case, but I don't get the ruling.

Perhaps I should (gasp) read it.

The above hissed in response by: wtanksleyjr [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 26, 2008 8:10 AM

The following hissed in response by: wtanksleyjr

Never mind. Daffyd, you were wrong to call this a treaty. The question was whether the Vienna Conventions are binding on court cases; the clear precedent is that they are not. They are not ranked as a treaty and should not be cited as such UNLESS one wishes to parody the liberals who will condemn the eevil Bush Regime for seeking to overthrow international cooperation by jackbootedly enforcing it.

And if you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - for eight more years. Heh heh heh. Now I want to print some campaign buttons.

The above hissed in response by: wtanksleyjr [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 26, 2008 8:16 AM

The following hissed in response by: Steven Den Beste

wtanksleyjr, in Reid v. Covert, SCOTUS declared that the treaty power could not be used to violate Constitutional protections and provisions.

There's also an earlier decision, from about 80 years ago, which clarifies just how treaties stand in comparison to laws and constitutional provisions. I can't remember what it is, though, but what it says is that treaties stand lower than laws, and treaties in practice aren't necessarily automatically in force. Some treaties are clearly frivolous exercises in public relations which neither side genuinely takes seriously, and such treaties are not "law of the land". Or at least that's the way I understand it, though IANAL.

Oddly enough, the UN charter is considered to be one of those.

The above hissed in response by: Steven Den Beste [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 26, 2008 9:13 AM

The following hissed in response by: hunter

Can't fiegn a BDS pov, I am sorry to say.
Here in Houston, the city impacted by the crime, the attacks on the Prez on this came mostly from our hard-right talk radio station - KSEV.
Instead of seeing this as a tough case, in which Bush was ultimately trying to protect Americans caught in legal problems overseas, the reactionaries at KSEV attacked Bush for trying to force the state to review the killer's case.
What is needed is legislation requiring states to comply with treaties, imho. These treaties help significant numbers of Americans in Mexico and elsewhere. There was no way that a review of this disgusting killer's case would show that a Mexican consulate review would have helped him avoid the death penalty. The case was open and shut.
But next time you are stopped in Baja or Cancun after a serious car wreck you might think twice about how wicked the Bush position was.

The above hissed in response by: hunter [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 26, 2008 3:12 PM

The following hissed in response by: nk

"The Supreme Court informed the Shrub that he is not King George I and no longer Governor of Texas, neither. If he wants Texas, a sovereign State in a Union of sovereign States known as The United States of America, to let some rapist/killer off because some foreign court said so, he should have negotiated a treaty that said so and obtained the advise and consent of Congress in accordance with the Constitution."

Which, really, is the right thing to say. I like the President, for a lot of reasons, but he was wrong as he could be on this.

The above hissed in response by: nk [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 26, 2008 6:47 PM

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