Human Rights Treaties in State Courts: The International Prospects of State Constitutionalism after Medellín
23 Pages Posted: 17 Nov 2011 Last revised: 20 Feb 2015
Date Written: September 26, 2011
Subnational implementation of human rights law has been the subject of increasing interest among scholars and litigators in recent years, building on the call for independent state constitutionalism and the rise of New Federalism. The Supreme Court's decision in Medellín v. Texas may have the effect of limiting the space for this kind of independent state level initiative. This Essay examines the conditions under which state courts have engaged with the international human rights treaties the United States has signed or ratified, and considers whether and how these treaties will be affected by the Medellín decision. I conclude that because state courts have been more receptive to arguments based on treaties as non-binding persuasive authority, even the broadest reading of the decision will not end this type of human rights advocacy.
Keywords: State constitutionalism, federalism, treaty implementation, human rights
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