The United States is on the brink of signing a new climate-change treaty that many people believe will be the mechanism that ushers in global governance. Global governance has been under construction for many years. Every new treaty in which the United States participates requires the surrender of a little more sovereignty. International treaties have influenced domestic policy throughout the 20th century, forcing the federal government to impose restrictions on individual freedom – restrictions that are not authorized in the enumerated powers set forth in the U.S. Constitution.
For example, nothing in Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution empowers the federal government to restrict the use of private property. The Endangered Species Act, enacted to bring the United States into compliance with several international treaties, gives the federal government the power to dictate what a private land owner may and may not do on his own land. This is only one of the more obvious examples of how a treaty is used to extend the power of the federal government beyond the limitations set forth by the Constitution.
When the Constitution was written, senators were chosen by the legislature of each state. The power of the states was substantially diminished by the passage of the 17th Amendment in 1913, which called for senators to be elected by popular vote, rather than by the legislature. This loss of the state legislature’s power to influence the central government is especially pertinent to the ratification of treaties. The Constitution requires two-thirds of the senators present to vote in the affirmative to ratify a treaty.
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Changes to the U.S. Constitution require ratification by three-fourths of the states. The Constitution, along with “… all treaties made, or which shall be made … shall be the supreme law of the land” (Article VI). It makes no sense at all to ratify a Constitution that explicitly limits the power of government, and then ratify treaties that require the government to exercise power beyond those authorized by the Constitution.
Patrick Henry cited the possibility that this situation could arise as a reason why he could not support the ratification of the Constitution. He said: “Sure I am, if treaties are made infringing our liberties, it will be too late to say that our constitutional rights are violated.” (A more detailed discussion of this situation is available online.)
It may not be too late to correct this situation. Article 2, Section 2 of the Constitution says:
He [the president] shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur. …
Consider this simple amendment:
He [the president] shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present [three-fourths of the state legislatures] concur. …
If treaties are co-equal with the Constitution as the “supreme law of the land,” is it not reasonable that treaties be subjected to the same ratification standard required by the Constitution? If treaties are being used to empower government to act beyond its constitutional limitations, the states have every right to demand their approval – just as their approval was required to empower the Constitution.
Globalists and progressives will scream bloody murder, of course, claiming that it would be impossible to get three-fourths of the states to agree on anything. There are 27 constitutional amendments that refute this argument, the most recent of which came in 1992. One more amendment is not only possible, it is essential if we are to save this great nation from the hands of international politicians and return it safely into the hands of the people.
Globalists and progressives will argue that this amendment would slow or stop the process of globalization. Others will argue that the process should have been slowed or stopped years ago.
Globalists and progressives will argue that this amendment is a step backward for civilization. Others will argue that civilization needs to return to the values and virtues of America’s founders.
Weary and worn constitutionalists will argue that it’s too much work to get another amendment ratified, especially in the face of what will surely be an all-out war by the well-financed progressives. But then, others will recall the difficulties at Valley Forge and Bunker Hill and Iwo Jima; getting an amendment ratified is child’s play compared to the work done by those who have gone before us.
The United States is the greatest nation on earth because its citizens are free. They earned their freedom and created a government empowered by their consent, expressly for the purpose of defending that freedom. But power craves more power, and government power is no exception. Over time, treaties have become an easy way to expand government power beyond the reach of the people whose freedom the government is supposed to defend.
The amendment proposed above will take some of the wind out of the sails of the globalists and progressives, and it will return to the states some of the power taken from them by the 17th Amendment. Most importantly, it will give the people an opportunity to express their wishes about treaty matters to their elected state representatives, who are much closer to the people than are the Senate elite.