The state of Texas executed Mexican national Humberto Leal Jr. on Thursday, according to reports, in a case that was freighted with international and domestic political significance.
After a 5-4 Supreme Court decision against preventing the execution, Gov. Rick Perry was the only the only person who could issue a stay for Leal. Leal was killedy by lethal injection for the 1994 murder of 16-year-old Adria Sauceda.
Current and former U.S. government officials contend that Leal’s execution will have major implications for U.S. diplomatic relations because he was never given access to the Mexican consulate during his defense as required under international law.
The case also had political significance in that Perry is considering a run for president and his decision on whether to stay the execution will be scrutinized by both his supporters and critics.
The Obama administration asked the Supreme Court to issue a stay of execution until January to give Congress time to pass legislation that would force Texas to comply with the law giving foreign nationals access to consular services from their home states.
Writing for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia announced that the request for a stay of execution was denied.
“We decline to follow the United States’ suggestion of granting a stay to allow Leal to bring a claim based on hypothetical legislation when it cannot even bring itself to say that his attempt to overturn his conviction has any prospect of success,” Scalia wrote.
Justice Stephen Breyer wrote a dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan.
“The United States has signed and ratified the Vienna Convention, a treaty under which the United States has promised, among other things, to inform an arrested foreign national, such as Leal, that he has a right to request the assistance of his country’s consulate,” Breyer wrote.
“In reaching its contrary conclusion, the court ignores the appeal of the president in a matter related to foreign affairs, it substitutes its own views about the likelihood of congressional action for the views of executive branch officials who have consulted with members of Congress, and it denies the request by four members of the court to delay the execution until the court can discuss the matter at conference in September,” Breyer wrote.