Copyright (c) 2004 University of Michigan Law School
University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform
NOTE: FEDERALISM AND FOREIGN AFFAIRS: HOW TO REMEDY VIOLATIONS OF THE VIENNA CONVENTION AND OBEY THE U.S. CONSTITUTION, TOO
37 U. Mich. J.L. Reform 573
Joshua A. Brook*
On June 27, 2001, the International Court of Justice ("ICJ" or "World Court") in the Hague handed down its judgment in the LaGrand case, 3 a complex international legal dispute involving the death penalty, treaty interpretation, criminal procedure, federalism, and remedies for wrongful acts of States. The Court found that the United States had violated its international treaty obligations to Germany when agents of the Arizona state government failed to comply with provisions of the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations 4 ("VCCR," "Vienna Convention," or "the Convention"). The World Court also ruled that the United States is under an obligation to remedy such violations, though it left the means of such remedy to the discretion of the United States. 5 When state officials violate an international treaty, two fundamental principles of American constitutional government collide: the federal government's power to conduct international relations 6 and the limitations on what the federal government can do to compel the states to implement national policy. 7 This Note addresses this tension, and discusses ways for the United States to implement the World Court's judgment without offending the federal system provided for in the U.S. Constitution.
Although the LaGrand case eventually came before the world's highest judicial body, it began as a small-time heist on January 7, 1982, when Karl and Walter LaGrand held up the Valley National Bank in Marana, Arizona. In the course of the botched holdup, the brothers stabbed to death Ken Hartsock, the 63-year old bank ...
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