Validity of Treaties of United States

Pursuant to 28 USCS § 1257, the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction to review state court judgments includes the power to review judgments where the validity of a treaty of the United States is questioned.  Treaties with Indian tribes are considered as treaties of the United States.  Extradition agreements are not treaties and hence do not become part of the law of the United States.

In United States v. Valencia-Trujillo, 573 F.3d 1171 (11th Cir. Fla. 2009), it was held that not all treaties give defendants rights that can be asserted in the courts of the United States.  Only if the treaty contains stipulations which are self-executing, that is, require no legislation to make them operative, will they have the force and effect of a legislative enactment.

In De Los Santos Mora v. New York, 524 F.3d 183 (2d Cir. 2008), it was held that a treaty may also contain provisions which confer certain rights upon the citizens or subjects of one of the nations residing in the territorial limits of the other, which partake of the nature of municipal (i.e., domestic) law, and which are capable of enforcement as between private parties in the courts of the country.  The Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution places such provisions in the same category as other laws of Congress. Thus, whenever provisions of a treaty prescribe a rule by which the rights of the private citizen or subject may be determined and when such rights are of a nature to be enforced in a court of justice; that court resorts to the treaty for a rule of decision for the case before it as it would a statute.


Inside Validity of Treaties of United States