Alvarez-Machain II: The Supreme Court’s Reliance on the Non-Self-Executing Declaration in the Senate Resolution Giving Advice and Consent to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

Humberto Alvarez-Machain, a Mexican national, was kidnapped in Mexico and brought to the United States at the behest of US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents for allegedly assisting in the torture and murder of a DEA agent in Mexico. He challenged the jurisdiction of US courts to try him, arguing that his illegal seizure barred the trial. The Supreme Court rejected that contention, holding that “the power of a court to try a person for a crime is not impaired by the fact that he has been brought within the court’s jurisdiction by reason of a ‘forcible abduction.’” This writer was one of the few who supported the Supreme Court’s decision sustaining jurisdiction, arguing that it was consistent both with international law and with the Fourth Amendment.

By Malvina Halberstam

Professor Halberstam is a member of Cardozo's founding faculty. She has also taught at the law schools of Loyola (Los Angeles), University of Southern California, University of Texas, University of Virginia, and The Hebrew University. She clerked for Judge Edmund Palmieri, served as an assistant district attorney under Frank Hogan, as a reporter for the American Law Institute (Model Penal Code Project), and as a counselor on international law for the US Department of State, Office of the Legal Advisor. As counselor, she supervised the State Department's comments on what became the Restatement of U.S. Foreign Relations Law (Third) and headed the US delegation in the negotiations on the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Maritime Navigation, adopted in Rome in 1988.

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