Americans Held In Iraq Appeal to US Supreme Court

The cases of two Americans held by the military in Iraq went before the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday. The two men argue that they should have access to American courts to block their transfer into the control of the Iraqi government. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone reports from Washington.

Chief Justice John Roberts and some of the other Supreme Court justices were skeptical of a lawyer's contention that the two men in question should have access to U.S. courts.

The two men asking for U.S. intervention are Mohammad Munaf and Shawqi Omar. Munaf holds American and Iraqi citizenship and was allegedly involved in the kidnapping of three Romanian journalists in 2005.

Omar also holds Jordanian citizenship and allegedly assisted a terrorist network in Iraq.

Both men say they are innocent and are being held by the U.S. military in Iraq. Their lawyer says they should have access to U.S. courts since they are in the custody of the U.S. military.

But the Bush administration argues that the United States is part of an international coalition in Iraq. A lawyer for the government argued that the two men are actually being held by a multinational force, and therefore should not be given access to U.S. courts.

The Supreme Court will issue a ruling in the case before the end of June.

On another matter, the high court has decided that President Bush exceeded his authority when he directed the state of Texas to comply with a ruling by the International Court of Justice, also known as the world court.

The world court ruled in 2004 that the United States should review the case of Jose Medellin and 50 other Mexicans awaiting execution in the United States. Medellin was sentenced to death in 1994 in Texas for the rape and murder of two teenage girls.

The international court demanded a review of the case after Texas officials acknowledged that Medellin was not allowed to talk to officials from the Mexican consulate in violation of the 1963 Vienna Convention.

By a six to three vote, the high court said President Bush did not have the authority to force individual states to abide by international court rulings.

White House press secretary Dana Perino said the president was disappointed with the court decision and that the administration is now reviewing it to see how it might impact international relations.

"The court recognized that there is an international obligation to comply with treaties, but that the President of the United States does not have the legal authority to compel a state to take that action. While we urged a different result, we respect the court's decision and will abide by it," she said.

Lawyers for the Bush administration argued that the president must have the authority to compel the individual states to live up to international treaty obligations.

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