Plainly, the external powers of the United States are to be exercised without regard to state laws or policies. The supremacy of a treaty in this respect has been recognized from the beginning. Mr. Madison, in the Virginia Convention, said that if a treaty does not supersede existing state laws, as far as they contravene its operation, the treaty would be ineffective. “To counteract it by the supremacy of the state laws, would bring on the Union the just charge of national perfidy, and involve us in war.” 3 Elliot’s Debates 515.
One year ago, the U.S. Supreme Court refused a request by the Obama administration to stay the lethal injection by Texas of a convicted prisoner even though that execution would violate a U.S. treaty obligation. Instead, the Supreme Court deferred to contravening Texas state law and policy that denied the prisoner, Humberto Leal García, a hearing on the merits as to whether the government of Texas’s failure to advise Leal of his right to meet with a consular representative prejudiced his criminal convictions in Texas courts. The State of Texas, which opposed the stay, carried out the execution hours after the Supreme Court stood down.