Case 276 - Governor Gilmore and the Execution of Angel Breard: International Law Versus States' Rights
Martin, Curtis H.
This two-part case study examines the 1988 decision by Virginia Governor James Gilmore to proceed with the execution of a Paraguayan national, despite the potential negative consequences for U.S. foreign relations, and despite a specific request by the International Court of Justice for a stay, based on the claim that the United States had violated the accused rights under the Vienna Convention on Consular Rights. Part A asks students to consider the ICJ’s plea for a stay from the governor’s vantage point, while Part B describes events and reactions to the execution. The case may be used to examine the impact of the “new federalism” on the doctrine and practice of federal supremacy in the making of U.S. foreign policy or, more broadly, the tension between integrative and disintegrative factors in the emerging international system.