Government by Treaty/Are Americans Ready for It?

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3053289Government by Treaty — Are Americans Ready for It?William H. Fitzpatrick

The people of this country are the inheritors of liberties gained at great cost through the centuries.

These liberties—such as religious freedom, freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of peaceful assembly—are endangered by such proposed treaties as the Genocide Convention, already submitted by the President to the Senate for ratification, and the Covenant on Human Rights, which is near completion in the United Nations.

These treaties invade the precincts of domestic law.

These treaties reduce the powers of the States while strengthening the powers of a centralized government.

These treaties strengthen the powers of the executive branch of the Government, thus weakening the historic balance of the legislative, the executive, and the judicial.

These treaties, if ratified by the Senate and upheld by the Supreme Court, can destroy utterly our Bill of Rights, and our form of government.

Mr. Frank M. Ober of Baltimore, 1949–50 president of the Maryland Bar Association, writes in the September issue of the ABA Journal:

"This argument (that the treaty-making power is almost, if not entirely, without any constitutional limit) has received strong support from the implications of a recent decision of the Supreme Court in United States v. Curtiss–Wright, where it is said 'the investment of the Federal Government with the powers of external sovereignty did not depend upon the affirmative grants of the Constitution;' but are 'necessary concomitants of nationality.' If it be true that the treaty-making power is not derived from the Constitution, then it logically is not limited by its other express provisions or any other restrictions implied from that document. Hence, on that hypothesis, there would seem to be nothing that would logically prevent, for example, denying freedom of religion or of the press by treaty, or the cession of some of our States to a foreign government—"

Mr. Ober declares it seems doubtful that the Supreme Court "would press the Curtiss–Wright doctrine that far," but points out these dangers:

1. Supreme Court rulings on implied limitations on the treaty-making power "are vague at best," and "the Supreme Court has never expressly declared a treaty invalid, and has cast doubt on its own power to do so in the Curtiss–Wright case;" and

"2. There is some indication that the Supreme Court might decline to take jurisdiction to declare treaties invalid on the ground that they involve political questions, thus leaving treaties subject to the unrestricted power of the President and Senate."

This is government by treaty.

Under this concept the House of Representatives will have no voice in adoption of any domestic legislation contained in a self-executing valid treaty. It means a change in our form of government, for the House of Representatives was fashioned to make its Members more directly answerable to the people by election every 2 years.

Government by treaty means, in the ultimate, destruction of the Bill of Rights.

Are Americans ready for that?