Humberto Leal: Supreme Court Refuses To Halt Texas Execution, Despite White House Warning [UPDATE]

07/07/2011 06:14 pm ET | Updated Sep 06, 2011

[UPDATE - 7:48 p.m. ET] - CNN reports that Humberto Leal "has been executed by lethal injection in Texas."


The U.S. Supreme Court won't stop Texas from executing Mexican Humberto Leal.

The Court on Thursday considered whether to block Leal's execution for the rape and murder of a teenager in a case where Texas justice clashed with international treaty rights. The White House was among those pleading for a stay, saying the case could affect not only foreigners in the U.S. but Americans detained in other countries and cause "irreparable harm" to US interests abroad.

Justice Antonin Scalia, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Samuel Alito, Justice Anthony Kennedy and Justice Clarence Thomas, criticized the Obama administration's argument. "Congress evidently did not find these consequences sufficiently grave to prompt its enactment of implementing legislation," Scalia wrote in the Court's unsigned opinion, "and we will follow the law as written by Congress."

Justice Stephen Breyer, joined by the Court's three other liberal justices, dissented from the ruling.

"The Court ignores the appeal of the President in a matter related to foreign affairs, it substitutes its own views about the likelihood of congressional action for the views of Executive Branch officials who have consulted with Members of Congress, and it denies the request by four Members of the Court to delay the execution until the Court can discuss the matter at Conference in September," Breyer wrote. "In my view, the Court is wrong in each respect."

The Obama administration asked the high court to delay Humberto Leal's execution, set for Thursday evening, so Congress could consider a law that would require court reviews in cases where condemned foreign nationals did not receive help from their consulates.

The execution "would have serious repercussions for United States foreign relations, law enforcement and other cooperation with Mexico, and the ability of American citizens traveling abroad to have the benefits of consular assistance in the event of detention," the government argued.

Prosecutors said such legislation is likely to fail, and that Leal's appeals were simply an attempt to evade justice for a gruesome murder.

Leal, a 38-year-old mechanic, was sentenced to lethal injection for the 1994 rape-slaying of 16-year-old Adria Sauceda, whose brutalized nude body was found hours after Leal left a San Antonio street party with her. The girl's head was bashed with a 30- to 40-pound chunk of asphalt.

Leal moved with his family from Monterrey, Mexico, to the U.S. as a toddler. His appeals contended police never told him he could seek legal assistance from the Mexican government under an international treaty, and that such assistance would have helped his defense.

Suggest a correction