Medellin and Congress

by Curtis Bradley

There is a way in which the Medellin decision fits very nicely with our discussion last week about congressional-executive agreements. Like Oona’s article, the decision in Medellin is very pro-Congress. The Court’s finding of non-self-execution means that it is reserving to Congress the determinations of whether and how to comply with the ICJ decision. Similarly, the Court’s presidential power holding means that the President must work with Congress if he or she wishes to convert non-self-executing international law into U.S. law. Finally, the Court’s reliance on Justice Jackson’s framework from Youngstown, particularly category 3 of that framework, envisions a significant role for Congress, even in foreign affairs. All of this is to be applauded, in my view.

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