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    This page contains Supreme Court rulings -- with summaries of the majority and minority conclusions.

08-MEDELL on Oct 10, 2007

Decided Mar 25, 2008
Case Ruling: MEDELLIN v. TEXAS
After his conviction for murder, Mexican citizen Jose Medellin argued on appeal that police should have complied with the Vienna Convention and asked if he wanted his consulate notified of his arrest. Texas courts held that Medellin should have made this argument before trial. Separately, the UN's International Court of Justice heard a case involving Medellin, brought by Mexico against the US, on failure to comply with the Convention. The ICJ held that Texas courts must provide Medellin with hearings on the issue.

HELD: Delivered by Roberts; joined by Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, & Alito

The Vienna Convention was not "self-executing" but required further federal law for it to be binding upon US courts. The ICJ decision, further, was not binding on domestic courts since the country's obligations
  1. was only to defend the case, not abide by an ICJ judgment, and
  2. under the UN charter was only to "undertake to comply" with ICJ decisions.
Mexico was the party before the ICJ, not Medellin, and he gained no personal rights from the ICJ ruling. Pres. Bush wrote that state courts should give effect to the Convention did not bind those courts, because the Constitution does not grant him this power without Senate consent.

CONCURRED: Stevens concurs

The language of the UN Charter about a nation's obligation to heed an ICJ decision is too vague to be binding upon domestic courts.

DISSENT: Filed by Breyer; joined by Souter & Ginsburg

Standards for self-execution cannot be made clear in multilateral treaties since each country has its legal traditions for treaties. However, since the Vienna convention concerns an individual right AND the Supremacy Clause subjugates domestic law to treaties AND the ICJ asked Texas courts to hold a hearing on a legal issue AND the President favors this and Congress does not oppose it, the Supreme Court ought to enforce the ICJ decision.


    Participating counts on VoteMatch question 14. Question 14: Maintain US sovereignty from UN Scores: -2=Strongly oppose; -1=Oppose; 0=neutral; 1=Support; 2=Strongly support.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy
  • Headline: Vienna Convention treaty not binding on US courts (Score: 2)
  • Headline 2: UN Charter doesn't require heeding International Court (Score: 2)
  • Headline 3: Treaty giving individual rights should bind US courts

    Participating counts on AmericansElect question 5.
  • Headline: Vienna Convention treaty not binding on US courts (Answer: A)
  • Headline 2: UN Charter doesn't require heeding International Court (Answer: B)
  • Headline 3: Treaty giving individual rights should bind US courts (Answer: D)
  • AmericansElect Quiz Question 5 on Foreign Policy: When you think about the US pursuing its interests abroad, which of the following is closest to your opinion?
    • A: The US should always act in its own interest regardless of what other countries think
    • B: The US should rarely listen to other countries
    • C: The US should listen to other countries more often than not
    • D: The US should always listen to other countries before pursuing its own interests
    • E: Unsure


  • Key for participation codes:
  • Sponsorships: p=sponsored; o=co-sponsored; s=signed
  • Memberships: c=chair; m=member; e=endorsed; f=profiled; s=scored
  • Resolutions: i=introduced; w=wrote; a=adopted
  • Cases: w=wrote; j=joined; d=dissented; c=concurred
  • Surveys: '+' supports; '-' opposes.



Democrats participating in 08-MEDELL

Stephen Breyer w3dUS Democratic Appointee to Supreme Court 
Ruth Bader Ginsburg j3dUS Democratic Appointee to Supreme Court 



Republicans participating in 08-MEDELL

Samuel Alito j1US Republican Appointee to Supreme Court 
Anthony Kennedy j1US Republican Appointee to Supreme Court 
John Roberts w1US Republican Appointee to Supreme Court 
Antonin Scalia j1US Republican Appointee to Supreme Court 
David Souter j3dUS Republican Appointee to Supreme Court (retired 2009) 
John Paul Stevens w2cUS Republican Appointee to Supreme Court (retired 2010) 
Clarence Thomas j1US Republican Appointee to Supreme Court 



Independents participating in 08-MEDELL



Total recorded by OnTheIssues:

Democrats: 2
Republicans: 7
Independents: 0


















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