Article Vi Paragraph 2 of the Constitution
Article VI, paragraph 2, of the Constitution of the United States provides:
"This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, any thing in the Constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding."
The United States Supreme Court has interpreted this paragraph to mean what it says. Zschernig v. Miller, 389 U.S. 429, 440-41, 19 L. Ed. 2d 683, 88 S. Ct. 664 (1968); United States v. Pink, 315 U.S. 203, 230-31, 86 L. Ed. 796, 62 S. Ct. 552 (1942) ("state law must yield when it is inconsistent with or impairs the policy or provisions of a treaty").
On September 8, 1992, the United States ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ("ICCPR"); Article 6(5) of this treaty provides: "Sentence of death shall not be imposed for crimes committed by persons below eighteen years of age and shall not be carried out on pregnant women."
The majority opinion indicates that the Justices concurring therein are satisfied that the United States Senate Reservation 1(2) relieves state justices from their constitutional obligation to be bound by this treaty.
The Senate Reservation begins with a clause reading: "The United States reserves the right ...." This clause uses a singular verb. the following statement appears in Merriam Webster Dictionary of English Usage, p. 929 (1989): "As the United States came to be thought of as a single entity, the singular verb came more and more into use." the Senate's reservation reads:
"The United States reserves the right, subject to its [singular pronoun] constitutional constraints, to impose capital punishment on any person (other than a pregnant woman) duly convicted under existing or future laws permitting the imposition of capital punishment, including such punishment for crimes committed by persons below 18 years of age."