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Governor Of Texas Ignores The Constitution And Breaks The Law

Yesterday, a Mexican citizen who had been found guilty of a very heinous crime was executed by the state of Texas in accordance with the law. This article isn’t about the case itself, or the person who was executed, but about the Republican Governor of Texas, Rick Perry, the person who last year voiced his opinion that Texas should consider leaving the Union. Governor Perry decided to ignore an International treaty and in doing so violated one of the laws that is very clearly laid out in the Constitution. It’s worth noting that Republicans, particularly the Tea Party fringe, which loves Governor Perry, are very fond of citing the Constitution in support of their arguments, but feel free to ignore, edit or re-interpret it whenever it suits them.

Governor Perry violated the terms of an International treaty, one signed in 1963 and known as the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. The United States ratified the treaty on November 24, 1969. Article 36 of the treaty makes it clear that foreign nationals who are arrested or detained must be given notice “without delay” of their right to have their embassy or consulate notified of that arrest. If the detained foreign national so requests, the police must fax that notice to the embassy or consulate, which can then check up on the person. The consulate staff can then decide whether or not to assist the foreign national. Governor Perry repeatedly denied Mexico the right to meet with and help defend the person who was executed yesterday.

Governor Rick Perry broke the law
Whether or not it would have made a difference in this case doesn’t matter. The law is clear and Governor Perry defied it, even ignoring requests from the President that he delay the execution until congress has had a chance to strengthen the law for morons like Perry. You might think that because it’s an International Law, we can choose to ignore it and run by our own rules. That’s not true. According to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers – “The convention is the major worldwide treaty on the topic of consular relations and regulates all aspects of the relationship of consuls to a host government and the consul’s activities. The Vienna Convention is on the same level as constitutional rights granted by the United States Constitution. A federal treaty or statute establishing rules and regulations touching rights, privileges, obligations or burdens of aliens as such is the law of the land, and no state can add to or take from the force and effect thereof.”

Governor Rick Perry ignored the Constitution
The same Association also note that – “The Constitution historically has been construed to extend its protection to aliens. The guarantee of the Fourteenth Amendment that no state shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction equal protection of the law applies to all persons, including aliens, whether legally or illegally within the jurisdiction of the state. The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects aliens from being deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.”

Governor Perry has failed to perform his duties properly. Article VI of the Constitution makes the scope of such International treaties crystal clear, saying- “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution;”.

The consequences could affect all Americans traveling abroad
This is the first time that I can recall any country having broken the treaty. Even North Korea, a country that we are technically still at war with, honored the treaty in 2009, allowing access to an American journalist who was eventually released without harm. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled in favor of the United States when we invoked the treaty to successfully gain access to American hostages in Iran in 1979. We not only signed the treaty, we’ve honored it and benefited from it.

It’s not very likely that Mexico will ask that Governor Perry be brought to trial at the ICJ to resolve the dispute, but they could. Much more importantly, when Governor Perry decided to ignore the Constitution and break the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations he automatically made it possible for all of the other signatory countries to the treaty to regard the broken provision as invalid. That eventuality is spelt out in the wording of the treaty. Mexico could take the stance that is often played out in International diplomacy, and turn the tables on us by simply denying access to American nationals who are arrested there. More importantly, so could the many countries, including most of the Europeans, who openly criticize the use of the death penalty by the United States.

What will happen the next time that Americans are arrested in Iran, North Korea or other countries that dislike us? They can now feel free to ignore this aspect of the treaty and deny our government access to our citizens there. Governor Perry has done the traveling public, especially those who are legitimately or accidentally in unfriendly territories, a huge disservice. The Constitution makes it very clear that he has broken the law – not just International law, but our own law. Governor Perry, who has voiced the opinion that Texas should secede from the Federation, should be charged, tried and brought to justice.

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