Texas Two-Step?

High court passes on death penalty case brought by Minneapolis attorney

We've been waiting to blog on the U.S. Supreme Court's decision, announced Monday, not to hear an appeal filed by a Mexican national on death row in Texas who argues that foreign nationals are routinely and improperly denied help from their consulates. One of the attorneys pursuing the case, Medellin v. Dretk, is Sandra Babcock, whose legal activism we've written about and blogged about in recent months.

It's a complicated case, involving an international treaty that the U.S. has long ignored, rendered even more Byzantine by the Bush administration's announcement earlier this spring that it had concluded that the treaty was "optional." (I wonder whether that logic, articulated by a straight-faced Condi Rice, would hold sway for, say, your average DUI defendant or pot dealer.) We'd been holding off blogging in the hope that some fine legal mind would flyspeck SCOTUS's unsigned opinion and let us know whether Bush is, as we suspect, managing to end-run both the Supes and the World Court in one Machiavellian move.

Time's a-passing, though, so here's a snippet of the lone piece covering the decision we've found. 

The court cited a last-minute maneuver by President Bush ordering state courts to revisit the issue, making Supreme Court intervention unnecessary at this time. It reserved the right to hear the appeal again once the case had run its full course in state court.

"In light of the possibility that the Texas courts will provide Medellin with the review he seeks," the opinion stated, "we think it would be unwise to reach and resolve the multiple hindrances to dispositive answers to the questions here presented."

The rest of the AP story can be read here.

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