Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties; refugees

"The President has directed the Coast Guard to intercept vessels illegally transporting passengers from Haiti to the United States and to return those passengers to Haiti without first determining whether they may qualify as refugees."

"The text of the [United Nations refugee] Convention does not ban the 'exclusion' of aliens who have reached some indeterminate 'threshold'; it bans their 'return.'  It is well settled that a treaty must first be construed according to its 'ordinary meaning.'  Article 31.1 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, 1155 U.N.T.S. 331, T.S. No. 58 (1980), 8 I.L.M. 679 (1969).  The ordinary meaning of 'return' is 'to bring, send, or put (a person or thing) back to or in a former position.' . . .  That describes precisely what petitioners are doing to the Haitians.  By dispensing with ordinary meaning at the outset . . . the majority leads itself astray."