The Treaty and the Law

Humberto Leal García Jr., a Mexican citizen who faces execution in Texas next month, has petitioned Gov. Rick Perry for a six-month reprieve. He is asking for a stay under a vital international law, theVienna Convention on Consular Relations, which requires that foreign nationals who are arrested be told of their right to have their embassy notified of that arrest and to ask for help.

In recent years, the treaty has provided important protection for Americans who have been detained in Iran, North Korea and elsewhere. Mr. Leal was not notified after his arrest of his right to contact his embassy. But the Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that Texas did not need to comply with the treaty because there is no federal law requiring that states do so.

(from the New York Times Editorial page)