Mexican citizen Jose Medellin has been on death row in Texas for the past 13 years. He admitted to the brutal rape and murder of two teenage girls.
But Mexico, which opposes the death penalty, sued in the United Nations International Court of Justice, claiming the United States violated the Vienna Convention by refusing to allow Medellin, a Mexican citizen, to contact the Mexican consulate. The court agreed and in 2004, it ordered the U.S. to review Medellin's case and 50 others involving Mexican citizens on death row.
President Bush, who supports the death penalty, has sided with the international court, calling on Texas to comply with the ruling. The president says the order falls under his executive power to direct foreign policy — and that he is trying to give the United States credibility in the world.
If Texas ignores the ICJ ruling, it could damage the U.S. internationally and Bush's ability to conduct foreign policy. It would also endanger U.S. citizens who commit crimes abroad.
The Supreme Court case also goes to the heart of executive and state power in the United States.
Dahlia Lithwick, legal analyst with the online magazine Slate, discusses the case with Madeleine Brand.