What the U.S. government wants in the Medellin murder case, now being heard before the U.S. Supreme Court, is “bizarrely grotesque,” according to the chief counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund.
And the warning from ADF Chief Counsel Benjamin Bull notes that the case, being pursued by President Bush through the Department of Justice, could result in U.S. laws being subjugated to U.N. resolutions and rules to the point that local police officers will have to spend more time studying international law than catching criminals.
“The notion that an international body can Mirandize the right of an illegal immigrant to call a consulate, so that if the local police trip up and innocently don’t to it, a convicted rapist-torturer-murderer goes free, goes beyond bizarrely grotesque,” Bull, whose organization has filed an amicus brief on the issue, told WND.
At issue is the death penalty verdict for Jose Medellin, who confessed in 1993 to participating in the rape and murder of two Houston teenagers. Jennifer Ertman and Elizabeth Pena were sodomized and strangled with their shoe laces. Medellin then boasted of keeping one girl’s Mickey Mouse watch as a souvenir of the crime.
The Bush administration is before the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to overturn the death penalty, at the behest of the International Court of Justice, a division of the United Nations.
Medellin and four others were convicted of capital murder and sent to Texas’ death row. A juvenile court sentenced Medellin’s younger brother, who was 14 at the time, to 40 years in prison.
But the Bush administration intervention came after the U.N.’s International Court of Justice found Medellin was not informed of his right to contact the Mexican Consulate for legal assistance.
That, according to the Hague, was a violation of a 1963 treaty known as the Vienna Convention.
WND requests for comment on the situation to the campaigns of three leaders for the GOP nomination for president, Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney and John McCain, as well as several other “second-tier” candidates, did not generate a response.
But Bull said the potential results are frightening.
“This is going to be a watershed case,” he said, “which could bring the U.S. criminal justice system into a brave new world, subordinated to United Nations regulations and issuances.”
He noted the 50 convictions of illegal immigrants that could be overturned by the ruling, and said many of them would simply go free despite the assaults and homicides that may have been committed.
“Most of these individuals will never be retried – and that’s another level of concern – because the witnesses aren’t available,” he said.
And even worse yet, he noted, is the precedent it would set for “activist presidents.”
If the case is decided the wrong way, he said, a future president simply could impose such requirements on the United States simply by signing a treaty composed by the United Nations.
“That should scare the pants off Americans,” he said.
“What this would do if decided wrongly would be to transfer American sovereignty to instruments of the United Nations, essentially putting it under the 3rd World governments who form a majority of the governments at the United Nations,” he said.
“Our worst nightmare as Americans who love our country will happen,” he said.
He said he expects the outcome of the case ultimately will turn on the vote of Justice Anthony Kennedy, because the liberal and conservative blocs on the court largely have coalesced in previous decisions.
“He’s the swing vote. I know which way Souter, Stevens, Breyer and Ginsburg will vote. Ginsburg, when she was general counsel with the ACLU, wrote a law review article advocating that American foreign policy be under the United Nations,” Bull told WND. “This [case] is manna from heaven for her.”
“It just shows how terribly important the appointment of U.S. Supreme Court justices is,” he said. “The activist left is working to import their agenda through cases like Medellin. A requirement like this, which is not found in the U.S. Constitution, would never pass through even the most liberal legislative body.
“Remember, this is just the camel’s nose inside the tent. This is not the end,” he warned.
Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz, who is arguing on behalf of the state court system and its death penalty, said it is unusual to be litigating against the U.S. along with Medellin.
The Bush administration became involved in the Medellin case in 2003 when Mexico sued the U.S. over the consular issue in the International Court of Justice at the Hague. The so-called “World Court” is the United Nations’ top court for resolving international disputes.
The court ruled in Mexico’s favor in late 2004 and ordered the U.S. to reconsider the Mexican inmates’ murder convictions and death sentences. In February 2005, Bush announced that while he disagreed with the World Court’s decision, the U.S. would comply. He ordered courts in Texas and elsewhere to review the cases.
A few days later, however, the president withdrew the U.S. from the part of the Vienna Convention that gives the World Court final say in international disputes.
The Supreme Court, which had agreed to hear Medellin’s case, dismissed it later in 2005 to allow the case to play out in Texas. Last November, the all-Republican Texas Court of Criminal Appeals balked at the president’s order, saying Bush had overstepped his authority.
The Texas court said the judicial branch, not the White House, should decide how to resolve the Mexican cases. It also said Medellin wasn’t entitled to a new hearing because he failed to complain at his original trial about any violation of his consular rights and had therefore waived them.
Then Medellin appealed again to the U.S. Supreme Court, which announced last May it would hear his case. His lawyer, Donald Donovan of New York, will argue this week that Bush was correct when he took action to comply with the World Court’s decision.
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