The international law experts at Opinio Juris will have more insightful things to say about today's Medellin decision than I could ever think of, but one issue jumped out at me when I skimmed through it. At page 8, the Court says:
No one disputes that the [ICJ's] Avena decision—a decision that flows from the treaties through which the United States submitted to ICJ jurisdiction with respect to Vienna Convention disputes—constitutes an international law obligation on the part of the United States.
What I wonder is, can we now assume that WTO decisions (e.g., adopted panel and Appellate Body reports) constitute "international law obligations" of the United States? (Not "domestic law obligations," of course, which is another matter entirely.) The reason I ask this question is that U.S. appellate court decisions addressing WTO decisions in U.S. law seem to imply that they are not. For example, in the 2005 Corus Staal decision, after noting that the Charming Betsy doctrine of claim construction states that "courts should interpret U.S. law, whenever possible, in a manner consistent with international obligations," the CAFC had this to say: "WTO decisions are 'not binding on the United States, much less this court.'” I took the CAFC's statements in that case to mean that while the Anti-Dumping Agreement is an "international obligation" of the United States, WTO decisions interpreting that agreement are not.
This leads me to the following question: Does the Supreme Court's statement in Medellin undercut this at all? Looking at the DSU rules in relation to the ability to enforce ICJ judgements, WTO decisions seem like fairly strong "international law obligations" to me. If ICJ judgements are "international law obligations," shouldn't WTO decisions be as well?
I'm not quite sure what the implications of this would be. Given the reluctance of U.S. courts to find that international decisions (or even international agreements) create domestic law obligations, it may not have much of a practical impact. But it would be nice to have it acknowledged anyway.