Capital Cases, International Law, Presidential Authority, State Courts
In the Case Concerning Avena and Other Mexican Nationals (Mex. v. U.S.), I.C.J.
No. 128 (judgment of Mar. 31, 2004), the International Court of Justice determined
that 51 named Mexican nationals, including petitioner, were entitled to receive
review and reconsideration of their convictions and sentences through the judicial
process in the United States. On February 28, 2005, President George W. Bush
determined that the United States would comply with its international obligation to
give effect to the judgment by giving those 51 individuals review and
reconsideration in the state courts. However, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
held that the Presidents determination exceeded his powers, and it refused to give
effect to the Avena judgment or the Presidents determination.
This case presents the following questions:
Did the President of the United States act within his constitutional and statutory
foreign affairs authority when he determined that the states must comply with the
United States treaty obligation to give effect to the Avena judgment in the cases of
the 51 Mexican nationals named in the judgment?
Are state courts bound by the Constitution to honor the undisputed international
obligation of the United States, under treaties duly ratified by the President with the
advice and consent of the Senate, to give effect to the Avena judgment in the cases
that the judgment addressed?