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U.S. Flip-Flop in Medellin Case

Posted May 1, 2007 10:22 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal by a Mexican national on death row who says he was not informed of his right to meet with consular officials.

The United States has changed its position on whether courts here have to reopen cases in which defendants were denied that right, the New York Times reports.

In its latest position, the United States is calling on state courts to abide by a ruling by the International Court of Justice calling for new hearings for 50 Mexican nationals on death row.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals refused to comply in the case of Jose Ernesto Medellin, convicted of the rape and murder of two teenage girls. The court said President Bush exceeded his authority when he ordered state courts to enforce the World Court opinion.

Solicitor General Paul D. Clement says in court papers that failure to reverse the Texas court “will place the United States in breach of its international law obligation.”

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