A battle over a death row inmate that pitted the United States against Mexico, and the President against his home state of Texas, ended last night when a Supreme Court ruling cleared the way for Jose Ernesto Medellin to be put to death.
The Court, divided along ideological lines, rejected the late appeal by Medellin yesterday. Medellin was pronounced dead last night at 9:57 p.m.
In March, the Court ruled in Medellin v. Texas that President George W. Bush did not have to power to unilaterally order a Texas court to comply with the Protocol of the Vienna Convention, which would have gen Medellin a new hearing because he was denied the right to seek help from the Mexican consulate. But Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., said that the Executive Branch is not vested with the power to do so. Only Congress can enforce the rule by enacting it into law.
Medellin had asked the Court to delay his execution to give Congress time to act. In the 5-4 vote yesterday, the dissenting Justices – Justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter, and Stephan Breyer – said they would have asked the Bush administration for input before making a final decision.