Can the president order state judges around?

The Supreme Court tells Bush he doesn't have the authority to force state courts to abide by an international ruling.

Published March 26, 2008 3:55PM (EDT)

Here's my latest video for our partners at Current. In it, I discuss a recent Supreme Court ruling. On Tuesday, the court announced its 6-3 decision that the president does not have the authority to order state courts to review death sentences at the behest of an international court.

According to the Vienna Convention, foreign nationals arrested for certain crimes should have access to their home consulate in order to get help from their country. But in some cases, that access has not been granted. In 2004, the International Court of Justice ruled that state courts should review the cases -- several dozen of them, in fact -- to see whether that lack of assistance may have affected the trial. President Bush directed Texas courts to do so; when they declined, the case eventually made its way up to the Supreme Court.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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