Belmont Club

Who Decides?

The Associated Press says the Supreme Court “rejected a White House-backed appeal seeking to spare a Mexican citizen from execution Thursday evening in a death penalty case where Texas justice clashed with international treaty rights.” CBS News said, “the Obama Administration, citing concerns over U.S. interests and treaty obligations, had asked the court to delay the execution, scheduled for 7 p.m. Eastern Time tonight.”

Justices voted 5-4, refusing to keep Humberto Leal from lethal injection, The decision came about an hour before Leal could be taken to the Texas death chamber for the 1994 rape-slaying of a 16-year-old girl.

The Obama administration and others asked the high court to delay Leal’s execution so Congress could consider a law that would require court reviews in cases where condemned foreign nationals did not receive help from their consulates. They said the case could affect not only foreigners in the U.S. but Americans detained in other countries.

CBS News called it a “vote along ideological lines”, highlighting Steven Breyer’s dissenting opinion.

“The Court ignores the appeal of the President in a matter related to foreign affairs, it substitutes its own views about the likelihood of congressional action for the views of Executive Branch officials who have consulted with Members of Congress, and it denies the request by four Members of the Court to delay the execution until the Court can discuss the matter at Conference in September, “Breyer wrote. “In my view, the Court is wrong in each respect.”

This is a question likely to be argued out over and and over again. But my prediction is that the first time the decision goes in favor of the World Court, that decision will henceforward be considered “settled law”.