Don’t look now, but Valley cynicism towards the president of the United States is about to get worse. At least, there is plenty good reason for the cynicism worsen.
On Tuesday, the United States Supreme Court began hearing arguments regarding a case known as Medellin v. Texas. The case emerged out of a 1993 incident in Houston when two teenage girls were walking home from a friend’s house.
Seems innocent enough, right? Horrifically, 16-year-old Elizabeth Pena and 15-year-old Jennifer Ertman were attacked, raped and strangled. Those accused of the hideous killings were members of a gang known as “The Black and Whites,” and chief among them was a guy named José Medellin.
The case was quite high-profile back in 1993 and ’94, and it is becoming that way again — because José Medellin is an illegal immigrant.
Medellin was tried and convicted of capital murder in 1994 and received a death sentence. After appealing his conviction numerous times, and after losing each of his appeals, he wrote to Mexican consular authorities in 1997 asking for legal advice. And the Mexican consular authorities were happy to provide it.
In January 2003, while the Medellin case was pending in U.S. District Court, the Mexican government began to engage the International Court of Justice against the U.S. government, alleging that the U.S. had violated the Vienna Convention with respect to Medellin and more than 50 other Mexican citizens who had been sentenced to death in state criminal proceedings.
Several months later in 2004, the International Court of Justice determined that the U.S. had violated Article 36 of the Vienna Convention — a statute which stipulates that consular officers have the right to protect nationals who are detained in the courts of “foreign countries.” The ICJ also called upon the United States to review all of the other cases involving Mexican citizens who had been sentenced to die in the U.S.
By this point, legal wrangling between the U.S. and the ICJ was clearly under way. Months later, the U.S. court in New Orleans rejected Medellin’s appeal, because he hadn’t raised the issue of “consular protection” during his trial. The Supreme Court also refused to overturn his conviction at that time.
Then, enter the Bush administration. In 2005, President Bush announced that the United States would “discharge its international obligation” — whatever that means — by giving the Mexican nationals “review and reconsideration” in the state courts.
But despite the president’s intervention, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled in November that the president’s stance on the matter exceeded his powers, and it refused to follow the ICJ ruling. In short, the Texas court determined that the matter involving Medellin was a matter for the judicial branch, not the executive branch, and the president had no business meddling.
Now, Medellin and his attorneys have appealed this decision to the Supreme Court. And the Bush administration is on record, before the Supreme Court, as siding with the International Court of Justice over the state of Texas.
It is stunning to think that any sitting U.S. president would assert that the laws of one of the 50 states should be subordinate to the preferences of an international body of bureaucrats. But it rubs salt into an already abscessed wound, knowing that the convicted murderer at the epicenter of all this time-consuming and highly expensive legal wrangling is an illegal immigrant.
Such behavior from government officials, both in Washington and here at home, leaves an already dumbfounded American citizenry even more confused and angry.
It violates every remaining shred of Americans’ sense of justice, knowing that while two American teenage girls were brutally raped and murdered, 13 years later the president of the United States is willing to try to weaken the ruling of the state court that convicted the killer, in an effort to appease an international judiciary that has absolutely no authority in our country whatsoever.
It violates the American sense of justice, in much the same way as does the knowledge that two former American Border Patrol agents (Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean) are right now serving 11- and 12-year sentences in prison, after mishandling an incident wherein they shot at an illegal immigrant smuggling drugs into our nation. And it reminds us of municipal leaders who turn a blind eye and ignore the obvious, when a 22-year-old Phoenix police officer is gunned down in the line of duty by an illegal immigrant.
In this present election cycle, candidates for public office would do well to get real honest, and real forthright, real fast, as it regards illegal immigration and our nation’s sense of justice. Let’s hope some candidates will.