Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Who's Protecting U.S. Citizens?

The right wing has made one of its talking points that an 'activist judiciary' threatens the country's health, specifically because it lets women hold sway over their own decisions about their own bodies. That has come back to haunt them as judges appointed by the officials they've elected under that ruse have ruled against the right in instances such as the Medellin case.

Briefly, in Medellin, the cretin in chief represented by his judiciary, argued against the State of Texas for failing to advise a murderer that he could have his consulate join in his defense. A Mexican national, Jose Medellin, stands condemned to death in Texas and his attorneys have argued all the way to the Supreme Court not that he was innocent but that his rights were violated in that failure to let him have access to his consulate. A treaty was breached, specifically the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.

Today, the Mexican Ambassador pleads that case, in which Medellin was condemned to death.

In Medellín v. Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that a binding decision of the International Court of Justice upholding the consular rights of Mexico and its citizens cannot be invoked in U.S. courts. Furthermore, the Supreme Court held that the president does not possess the constitutional authority to enforce the court of justice judgment and that only Congress has the power through enactment of legislation to implement binding international adjudication.

At issue in this case was the refusal of the Texas courts to grant a new hearing to José Medellín, a Mexican citizen who everyone concedes was arrested, tried and sentenced without being advised by Texan authorities of his right to contact his consulate for assistance.
While Mexico acknowledges President Bush's efforts to ensure that the U.S. "will discharge its international obligations" under the ruling, my government is deeply disappointed with the Supreme Court's decision. Indeed, the ruling has produced the destabilizing paradox of a decision that is binding under international law but that, under the terms of the Supreme Court's opinion, is unenforceable without congressional action. This legal vacuum has potentially global consequences that can only be seen as deeply troubling.

Great nations lead by their deeds, and not by their words alone. Just as this nation has consistently invoked international obligations to protect U.S. citizens abroad, it should abide by that same rule of law when the treaty rights of Mexican citizens in the United States are at stake.

It's tempting to take pleasure in the anomaly that the occupied White House has been forced to oppose the death penalty it usually revels in, to aspire to enlarging its own powers. Even more fun to be had in that it lost. That the decision of the Supreme Court threatens the safety of citizens of the U.S. in foreign countries, and the war cabal defended them, though, is altogether ribald humor. Torture of accused terrorists threatens our citizens, especially captured troops, more than any failure to give them access to representation. Its own contradictions become every day more of a threat to the U.S. from this worst administration ever - in this instance its right wing appointees to the court carried out that threat while the White House tried to thwart it.

What damage has already been done by this winger executive branch would only be worsened by a McCain administration. While he has voted for executive appointments to the bench before, now in an attempt to win favor with the wingers, he's throwing fuel on their fire.

...Mr. McCain's red-meat rhetoric surely did not disappoint his base. He bemoaned the "common and systematic abuse of our federal courts by the people we entrust with judicial power," adding, "Assured of lifetime tenures, these judges show little regard for the authority of the president, the Congress, and the states. They display even less interest in the will of the people."

The country is disserved by catering to a right wing that insists its own moral stands be represented above the rule of law. If they do succeed in electing representatives like Rick Santorum, for instance, who will embody in law their own principles, we need a judiciary with enough moral fiber to rule against them.

Another right wing administration could well so stack our courts that law becomes secondary to dogma. That would be a tragedy of incredible magnitude.


On a brighter note: the U.S. is turning into DFHs.

A new poll by International Communications Research found 68% of Americans want Congress to use the power of the purse to bring all troops home from Iraq within the next six months. This is up from 54% last September.

All those arguments that we broke it and we have the power to fix it by keeping on making the same mistakes and build a great vacation resort in the middle of it somehow are failing to persuade any but the seriously unbalanced minds that now hold this country in their benighted grasp.

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