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US Supreme Court to hear argument on interesting treaty, separation of power, death penalty case

On Wednesday, the United States Supreme Court will hear argument in Medellin v. Texas. Counsel for the petitioner describes the case as follows:

"On April 30, 2007, the Supreme Court granted a petition for certiorari that Debevoise filed on behalf of Jose Medellin, a national of Mexico on death row in Texas. Mr. Medellin's case before the Supreme Court comes in the wake of President Bush's February 2005 determination that state courts would provide the review and reconsideration ordered by the International Court of Justice in Avena and Other Mexican Nationals, which held that Mr. Medellin's rights and those of 50 other Mexican nationals under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations were violated by the United States when they were tried and sentenced to death without being provided notice of their right to consular assistance. Shortly after its representation of Mexico in Avena, Debevoise obtained Supreme Court review of Mr. Medellin's case on December 10, 2004, on the question of whether, under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, United States courts must give effect to the Avena judgment. In April 2005, however, the Supreme Court declined, after hearing oral argument, to decide whether the Avena judgment was enforceable in United States courts since President Bush had determined that state courts would provide the required review and reconsideration. The Supreme Court's decision explicitly contemplated, however, that Mr. Medellin would have an opportunity to return to the Supreme Court to seek review of the state court's treatment of his petition.

In September 2005, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals heard argument on whether Texas must give effect to the Avena judgment and the President's determination. On November 15, 2006, the Texas court denied relief, expressly holding that the President of the United States has no authority to enforce the undisputed treaty obligation of the United States to abide by the Avena judgment in the cases of the Mexican nationals addressed in that judgment. The Supreme Court has now agreed to review the Texas court's judgment."

The law firm provides links to all of the briefs in the case at the above link. Scotuswiki also provides an analysis of the issues presented and will provide a link to the transcript of oral argument tomorrow afternoon.

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