United States Says Screw the World Court
Rule of law? How quaint!
Prompted by an international tribunal's decision last year ordering new hearings for 51 Mexicans on death rows in the United States, the State Department said yesterday that the United States had withdrawn from the protocol that gave the tribunal jurisdiction to hear such disputes.
The withdrawal followed a Feb. 28 memorandum from President Bush to AttorneyGeneral Alberto R. Gonzales directing state courts to abide by the decision of the tribunal, the International Court of Justice in The Hague. The decision required American courts to grant "review and reconsideration" to claims that the inmates' cases had been hurt by the failure of local authorities to allow them to contact consular officials.
The memorandum, issued in connection with a case the United States Supreme Court is scheduled to hear this month, puzzled state prosecutors, who said it seemed inconsistent with the administration's general hostility to international institutions and its support for the death penalty.
The withdrawal announced yesterday helps explains the administration's position.
Darla Jordan, a State Department spokeswoman, said the administration was troubled by foreign interference in the domestic capital justice system but intended to fulfill its obligations under international law.
But Ms. Jordan said, "We are protecting against future International Court of Justice judgments that might similarly interfere in ways we did not anticipate when we joined the optional protocol."
Peter J. Spiro, a law professor at the University of Georgia, said the withdrawal was unbecoming.
"It's a sore-loser kind of move," Professor Spiro said. "If we can't win, we're not going to play."
This president is the master of "conduct unbecoming."