Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law


James A. Deeken

First Page



This Note will explore the conflict between federalism expressed in the U.S. Constitution and the demands that international treaties, entered into by the federal government, make on local governments. Part I will explain the current state of the issues addressed in the Note, including the Vienna Convention, and the relevant provisions relating to the arrests of foreign nationals. The Note will then examine whether, given that international treaties have been interpreted as providing rights and provisions that are only enforceable by countries, a private party, such as a foreign national, has the power to invoke the provisions in his defense when faced with a criminal action or a habeas corpus motion. Part I will explore the structure in the U.S. Constitution that divides powers between the federal and state governments, granting certain powers to state governments and imposing limits on the power of the federal government. It is this allocation of power that may pose an obstacle to a federal attempt to mandate state compliance with affirmative obligations under an international treaty such as the Vienna Convention.

The remainder of the Note will analyze the issues involved in determining whether a foreign national can rely on a federal court to apply the Vienna Convention against state governments to suppress evidence. Part III will analyze whether the federal government can impose duties on local governments through international treaties, such as the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (Vienna Convention). Assuming that federal governments can impose these duties on local governments, Part IV will examine whether suppression of evidence would be a justifiable remedy for the violation of these duties.