Monday, November 1, 2010

On November 1

On this day in ...
... 1887, U.S. Secretary of State Thomas F. Bayard (left) wrote a letter to the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, regarding the case of one A.K. Cutting, an American who had been jailed in Mexico on charges that he had libelled a Mexican citizen in a paper published in Texas. (The letter's reprinted in full on pp. 751-57 here.) Bayard argued that U.S. citizens could not

be held under the rules of international law to answer in Mexico for an offense committed in the United States, simply because the object of that offense happens to be a citizen of Mexico.
Contending that "the penal laws of a country have no extraterritorial force," Bayard demanded indemnity for the jailed citizen and repeal of the Mexican law that had permitted his arrest. Mexico's contrary position in this Cutting Case (a controversy that gave rise to concerns that the United States might invade Mexico) amounted to an assertion of what is now known as the passive personality principle of extraterritorial jurisdiction.

(Prior November 1 posts are here, here, and here.)

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