Medellin is important because it involves international law—specifically a convention that requires the authorities to notify the appropriate Consulate when a criminal alien is arrested. Nowadays in the U.S., that mostly means the Mexican Consulate.
The World Court has criticized the United States for not always notifying the Consul in these cases. The theory is that the Consul could get a better lawyer for the killer, and perhaps help him get away with murder. There is actually a large, well funded, get-away-with-murder lobby:
"Medellin was supported in his appeal by dozens of countries, legal groups and human rights organizations, as well as former American diplomats and the European Union. Much of the international community is opposed to capital punishment, with the execution of Mexican nationals in Texas a particularly touchy point." [Court Dismisses Death Row Rights Appeal, By Hope Yen, Washington Post, May 23, 2005]
As a result of the World Court decision, the Bush Administration has submissively told the states to do a retrial for the foreign killers whose Consuls weren't notified.
The tendency of rights groups to help people get away with murder is a longtime complaint of conservatives. These groups also tend to concentrate on the technicalities of, say, Consular notification, and forget both the victims, still dead, and the killer.
Here's Medellin in his own words:
"My name is Jose Medellin, I am currently being held on Death Row, in the State that is at the top of the list for Death Row population, 453, executions this year: 26, as of 9/14/99. The State and government that also executes its children, its retarded, its poor. This state is the Lone Star State of Texas!
"I am a Mexican national. I came to Texas as a young boy along with the rest of my family. Not like many that are not proud of their country and want to get away. But just took a chance and opportunity at a brighter future. I am a Mexican through and through!...
"I had a plan, get my GED and go home to join the Mexican military, would have joined here, but I'm a Mexican, not a traitor :- ) I had everything in order, but as I said, the world takes twists and turns when it gets ready to, no matter if you are ready for the move.
"Don't feel sorry for me. I'm where I'm at because I made an adolescent choice. That's it!
"Then after that I'll be willing to tell you who the boy was that got himself arrested for capital murder. That way you can have a clear understanding of how far I have come."
Here's what Medellin did:
"On the evening of June 24, 1993, Jennifer Ertman, 14, and Elizabeth Pena, 16, left a social gathering at a friend's apartment in Houston. They were taking a shortcut home through the woods, when they encountered Jose Medellin and other members of the so-called 'Black and White' gang. All six gang members were engaged in a gang initiation rite for Raul Villareal. The gang had spent the evening drinking and "jumping in" Villareal, requiring him to fight all the other members until he lost consciousness.
After stumbling across the Black and White gang, each girl was repeatedly raped by the gang for the next hour. The girls were then strangled, beaten, and kicked to death.
That crime, which he doesn't deny, is the "adolescent choice" he made, and why he was sentenced to death.
One blogger pointed out that the Supreme Court, which was thinking of letting Jose Medellin get away with this murder on the grounds of insufficient consular access, had already let two of his accomplices in the same rapes and murders escape the death penalty because they were under 18 at the time of the murder.
My question: why is the Mexican Government trying to save Medellin's life?
Helpful hint to Vicente Fox: assisting Mexican nationals who've committed murder get away with it is likely to make your campaign to get the U.S. to amnesty illegal aliens less popular.
This is especially true if people start realizing how many of the foreign national murderers are from Mexico.
But it is clear that America is losing.