I’m still reeling with dismay and confusion. How could so many of my fellow Americans choose to re-elect someone who has proven to be totally unqualified for the job, if not downright destructive? It is unfathomable to me. I could offer up a litany of reasons why their choice was such a mistake, but most of you reading this know them all too well.
Even so, I’m still catching flak from some of our hard-line rights supporters for encouraging people to vote for Romney. They insist that since he has taken anti-rights positions in the past, I should have declared a pox on both leading parties and gone Libertarian or some other third party. As I said before the election, this presidential race boiled down to two choices: do something to help Obama get re-elected, or do something to keep Obama from being re-elected. While there were several ways to do the first, the only way to effectively do the second was to cast a vote for Romney, and encourage others to do the same – anything else helped Obama.
So now we’re stuck with Obama for another four years, and somewhere around 11 p.m. Tuesady night, most of us began wondering what that will really mean. What’s next? Those of us concerned about gun-owner rights didn’t have to wait long for that question to begin to be answered. First thing Wednesday morning the United Nations, with U.S. encouragement, decided to reopen discussions on an international arms trade treaty. The treaty talks were derailed in July when the U.S. and several other countries requested more time to work on it.
Many believed that move was politically motivated, with Obama not wanting a high-profile vote in favor of gun restrictions on his record just before the election. New treaty talks are scheduled for late March.
While the treaty was originally supposed to deal only with establishing export and reporting standards for military arms – basically modeled after current U.S. laws – talks quickly shifted focus from military weapons to include common civilian arms and ammunition. If ratified, the treaty could require the U.S. to implement a variety of domestic firearms restrictions and record-keeping requirements. During the Bush administration, attempts to develop the treaty were stymied by Ambassador John Bolton, but shortly after taking office, Obama, through Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, announced that the U.S. supported treaty talks going forward. Now that there are no re-election concerns, there is a danger that U.S. support will tip the scales for adoption of a far-reaching version of the treaty.
That would set the stage for a ratification battle in the U.S. Senate. Ratification requires passage by a two-thirds majority of the senators present. If ratification were successful, it would doubtlessly trigger a court battle over supremacy between the treaty and the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment protection of citizens’ firearm rights. Most legal scholars say such a treaty could not override the constitutional protections, but whether it could be enforced would be decided by the nine justices of the Supreme Court, not most legal scholars. By the time this treaty is ratified, Barack Obama could have replaced as many as three Supreme Court justices and completely shifted the Court’s majority philosophy.
The high bar set for passage in the Senate makes many confident that this treaty could never pass, but treaties are handled differently than regular legislation, and the bar isn’t quite as high as it seems.
Once a treaty is agreed to in principle, it is signed by the president or his designee and then sent to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, currently chaired by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. From there, the committee can send it to Harry Reid for presentation to the full Senate. If supporters of the treaty don’t think they can garner the political support needed for passage, Obama, Kerry, or Reid can simply set it aside and wait to send it forward when they have the support. Treaties, unlike regular legislation, don’t die at the end of a session of Congress. They remain “pending” until the Senate votes one way or the other, so supporters of a treaty can bide their time and only move it forward when all conditions favor passage. It is also important to note that unlike other Senate procedures requiring a two-thirds vote of the full Senate (67 votes), treaty approval requires a two-thirds vote of only the senators present.
Obama and his allies could hold onto the treaty in hopes of Democratic wins in the 2014 Senate elections, and then run it through at 3 in the morning on Christmas Eve when two-thirds of the senators present happen to support it. With the advent of a new “Obama Court,” both the method of passage in the Senate and the provisions of the treaty could be expected to receive a SCOTUS rubber stamp of approval.
While such a scenario seems far-fetched, one only need remember the chicanery surrounding passage of Obamacare to realize that far-fetched is the new normal in Washington.
Republicans must work across the aisle to find solutions for the nation’s troubled economy and to ensure security from foreign threats, but all of our representatives in Washington must stand resolutely against further encroachment of the Constitution – and the confirmation of judges and justices who would defend such encroachment. Politicians need to be reminded that they took an oath to defend the Constitution, not to obey their party bosses.