Mr. Speaker, I come tonight to talk to you, the House, about the murder of two girls. In 1993, two teenage girls were walking home, making sure they got there in time for the curfew. Their names were Jennifer Ertman and Elizabeth Pena.
As they were headed home, they took a shortcut through the woods, and that mistake cost them their lives. They came in contact with a person by the name of Jose Medellin, who was the gang leader of a group called the Black and Whites. He, along with his fellow gangsters, kidnapped these two girls and brutalized them, sexually assaulted them, tortured them, and then, when they were through having their way after gang raping them, they murdered them, these two teenage girls, Jennifer Ertman and Elizabeth Pena.
The Houston Police Department finally caught up with Jose Medellin and his gangsters. They were all tried lawfully in Texas courts. Jose Medellin received the death penalty, along with one other individual who's already been executed. A third individual is on death row waiting to be executed, and two more are serving life sentences in Texas penitentiaries.
Jose Medellin, when he was captured, had in his possession, Mr. Speaker, a watch. It was a Mickey Mouse watch that Jennifer Ertman wore. And he was proud to carry this token of his murder. He bragged about the murder. He confessed to the murder, and a jury of 12 Texans convicted him and gave him the death penalty, which he earned and which he deserved.
His case was appealed. It worked its way all the way to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court upheld the conviction based upon a complaint about the confession.
But during all of this process, 10 years after the conviction, in 2003, the Mexican Government filed a lawsuit against the United States in the World Court. You see, Medellin was illegally in the United States from Mexico. And the Mexican Government claimed that he should have been told by the arresting police officers that he had the right to talk to the Mexican Consulate.
Now, the Houston police officers didn't tell him he had the right. They certainly wouldn't have prevented him from having permission to talk to the Mexican Consulate, and he never, at the trial, objected to not being able to talk to the Mexican Consulate. He waited some 10 years until he got to the World Court before his government complained.
The World Court ruled in favor of Mexico, and here's where all of the irony begins. After the World Court ruled that the Texas court, or the Texas peace officers should have told him that he had the right to talk to the Mexican Consulate, the President of the United States intervened in this case and told the Texas courts they ought to review this matter; they ought to uphold the ruling of the World Court. And last year, the Texas courts, in all due respect to the administration, told the President he didn't have any authority to tell Texas courts what to do about anything, and they upheld this conviction and ordered him to be executed, this defendant.
Tomorrow the Supreme Court of the United States is going to hear this case. They're going to hear this case and have to decide this issue. Does the World Court, when it issues an opinion about a trial that takes place in the State of Texas, or any other State, have authority to tell a court of law in this country that they must overturn a conviction or not?
This is a big deal, Mr. Speaker, because, you see, Texas courts, like most courts in the United States, all courts in the United States, are beholden to the United States Constitution as the supreme law of the land. The supreme law of the land is not the World Court in the Hague. So that's the first decision the Supreme Court's going to have to make; whether or not this is a lawful order by the World Court or whether the Constitution is to be held supreme.
Second, they're going to have to decide, does the President of the United States have the authority to order any court to review any case?
I hope they rule that he does not because as Ted Cruz said, the lawyer representing the State of Texas tomorrow in this death penalty case, it is not the providence of the President to say what the law is or is not. If this President's assertion of authority is upheld in this case, it opens the door for enormous mischief from Presidents of either party. What might these Presidents be inclined to do if they had the power to flick State laws off the books?
It's a big deal. Separation of powers. The judicial branch is independent of the administration, of the executive branch. The executive branch has no authority over the judicial branch.
And the third issue, and most importantly, is should this case be reversed because the defendant, according to the World Court, should have had the ability to talk to his consulate or not?
Texas courts, and even Federal courts have found that he gave up that right if he had a right by not ever objecting at the trial.
Meanwhile, this defendant has been on death row longer than these two girls were alive. Justice must be provided for the victims of this crime, and this horrible case should be upheld by the Supreme Court.
And that's just the way it is.
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