- Bricker Amendment
The Bricker Amendment is the collective name of a series of proposed amendments to the
United States Constitutionconsidered by the United States Senatein the 1950s. These amendments would have placed restrictions on the scope and ratification of treaties and executive agreements entered into by the United States and are named for their sponsor, Senator John W. Brickerof Ohio, a conservative Republican. Non-interventionism, the view that the United States should not become embroiled in foreign conflicts and world politics, has always been an element in American politics but was especially strong in the years following World War I. American entry into World War IItemporarily suppressed non-interventionist sentiments, but they returned in the post-war years in response to America's new international role, particularly as a reaction to the new United Nationsand its affiliated international organizations. Some feared the loss of American sovereigntyto these transnational agencies, because of the Soviet Union's role in the spread of international Communismand the Cold War. Frank E. Holman, president of the American Bar Association(ABA), called attention to state and Federal court decisions, notably " Missouri v. Holland", which he claimed could give international treaties and agreements precedence over the United States Constitution and could be used by foreigners to threaten American liberties. Senator Bricker was influenced by the ABA's work and first introduced a constitutional amendment in 1951. With substantial popular support and the election of a Republican President and Congress in the elections of 1952, Bricker's plan seemed destined to be sent to the individual states for ratification. The best-known version of the Bricker Amendment, considered by the Senate in 1953–54, declared that no treaty could be made by the United States that conflicted with the Constitution, was self-executing without the passage of separate enabling legislation through Congress, or which granted Congress legislative powers beyond those specified in the Constitution. It also limited the president's power to enter into executive agreements with foreign powers.
Bricker's proposal attracted broad
bipartisansupport and was a focal point of intra-party conflict between the administration of president Dwight D. Eisenhowerand the Old Right faction of conservative Republican senators. Despite the initial support, the Bricker Amendment was blocked through the intervention of President Eisenhower and failed in the Senate by a single vote in 1954. Three years later the United States Supreme Court explicitly ruled in " Reid v. Covert" that the Bill of Rights cannot be abrogated by agreements with foreign powers and that such agreements cannot extend the powers of Congress beyond those permitted by the Constitution. [Reid v. Covert. (2006, October 28). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 22:50, October 28, 2006, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Reid_v._Covert&oldid=84187590 ] Nevertheless, Senator Bricker's ideas still have supporters, and new versions of his amendment have been reintroduced in Congress periodically.
George Washingtonwarned Americans of the dangers of foreign alliances.] The Bricker Amendment controversy grew from the strong vein of non-interventionism, nationalism, and suspicion of foreign influences that has existed from the beginnings of the American republic. "Non-interventionism was the considered response to foreign and domestic developments of a large, responsible, and respectable segment of the American people," wrote one historian of the movement. [Manfred Jonas. "Non-interventionism in America, 1935–1941." Ithaca, New York: Cornell UniversityPress, 1966. ix. Some object to the label "non-interventionist." According to Patrick J. Buchanan"the term is a dismissive slur on a tradition of U.S. independence in foreign policy and nonintervention in foreign wars" and "the idea that America was ever non-interventionist is a myth." Patrick J. Buchanan. "A Republic, Not An Empire: Reclaiming America's Destiny." Washington: Regnery, 1999. xii, 49.] The pre-Revolutionary cry of " no taxation without representation!" spoke to the inability of Americans to participate in how they would be governed, a state made clear when British authorities suppressed local government in colonies accustomed to home rule, e.g. Massachusetts. [Ray Raphael. "The First American Revolution : Before Lexington and Concord." New York : New Press, 2002.] The first President, George Washington, warned his countrymen "to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world." [George Washington. "Farewell Address" September 3, 1796. "Compilation of Messages and Papers of the Presidents". Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1896–1899. Volume I, 213. On-line [http://usinfo.state.gov/usa/infousa/facts/democrac/49.htm here] (accessed April 29, 2006).] Under John Adams, his successor, the United States attempted to avoid the conflict between France and Britain, and passed the Alien and Sedition Actsof 1798 to control foreign citizens. [An Act to Establish an Uniform Rule of Naturalization, Act of June 18, 1798 ch. 54, 1 Stat. 566; An Act Concerning Aliens, Act of June 25, 1798 ch. 58, 1 Stat. 570; An Act Respecting Alien Enemies, Act of July 6, 1798, ch. 66, 1 Stat. 577; An Act for the Punishment of Certain Crimes against the United States, Act of July 14, 1798, ch. 74, 1 Stat. 596.] In his inaugural address, President Thomas Jeffersondeclared that one of "the essential principles of our Government" was "peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none." [Thomas Jefferson. "Inaugural Address". March 4, 1801. On-line [http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/presiden/inaug/jefinau1.htm here] (accessed April 29, 2006); Lawrence S. Kaplan. "Entangling Alliances with None : American Foreign Policy in the Age of Jefferson." Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1987.] President James Monroe's doctrine (1823) announced the primacy of American influence in the Western Hemisphere. [Ernest R. May. "The Making of the Monroe Doctrine." Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1975.]
In the 20th century, America was initially neutral in
World War Iand avoided entering the conflict for three years. President Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat, won reelection in 1916 with the slogan "he kept us out of war," although he subsequently led the U.S. into the conflict. Once hostilities were concluded, Republican Senators William E. Borahof Idahoand Henry Cabot Lodgeof Massachusettsled like-minded colleagues in the United States Senateto reject the Treaty of Versailles(1919) and to avoid joining both international agencies created by it, the League of Nationsand the World Court, for fear of losing American sovereignty. [Margaret Olwen Macmillan. "Paris 1919 : Six Months That Changed the World." New York: Random House, 2002; Leroy Ashby. "The Spearless Leader: Senator Borah and the Progressive Movement in the 1920’s." Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1972; Marian C. McKenna. "Borah". Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 1961; John A. Garraty. "Henry Cabot Lodge: A Biography." New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1953.]
This fear of foreign control was long associated with anti-Catholicism and attendant allegations of Catholic
dual loyaltyto their country and the Pope, stemming from America's British Protestant roots. As late as the 1960 presidential election, in which President John F. Kennedybecame America's first Catholic chief executive, there were Americans who believed Catholics' first loyalty would be to the Pope and not the United States. [ In 1948, Paul Blanshard published a series of articles in "The Nation" warning of Catholics having too much influence in American politics. These articles were published as "American Freedom and Catholic Power". Boston: Beacon Press, 1949.] Previous concerns about "foreign influence" led to restrictive laws such as the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the Johnson-Reed Act of 1924, the Smith Actof 1940, and numerous state laws restricting foreigners from engaging in business or owning land. Similarly, America long maintained a protectionist trade policy with high tariffs on foreign products, notably the Hawley-Smoot Tariffof 1930.
of 1935 to preclude American involvement in another European war.
Several times after the conclusion of
World War I, constitutional amendments were proposed in Congress to require a nationwide referendum on declaring war. [Wayne S. Cole. "Roosevelt & the Non-interventionists, 1932–1945." Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 1983. Chapter 17. The best known of these proposals was the Ludlow Amendment, sponsored by Representative Louis L. Ludlow, a Democrat of Indiana.] When President Roosevelt in 1937 proposed a "quarantine" of aggressing nations such as Japan, he found little support, remarking "It's a terrible thing to look over your shoulder when you are trying to lead—and find no one there." [Doris Kearns Goodwin. "No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II." New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994. 22.] The America First Committee, formed in 1940 to keep the United States out of World War II, included Americans across the political spectrum from socialist Norman M. Thomas, journalist John T. Flynnof " The New Republic", and Senator Burton K. Wheelerof Montanaon the left to " Chicago Tribune" publisher Colonel Robert R. McCormick, Sears, Roebuckchairman General Robert E. Wood, and Senator Nye on the right. [Wayne S. Cole. "America First: The Battle Against Intervention, 1940–41". Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1953; Ruth Sarles. "A Story of America First: The Men and Women Who Opposed U.S. Intervention in World War II." Westport, Connecticut: Praeger, 2003. (The official history of America First.); Norman M. Thomas. "Keep America Out of War." New York: Frederick A. Stokes, 1939; Harry Fleischman. "Norman Thomas, A Biography: 1884–1968." New York: W.W. Norton, 1969. Chapter 14; Michele Stenehjem Gerber. "An American First : John T. Flynn and the America First Committee." New Rochelle, New York: Arlington House Publishers, 1976; Burton K. Wheeler and Paul F. Healy. "Yankee from the West : The Candid, Turbulent Life Story of the Yankee-born U.S. Senator from Montana." Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1962; Richard Norton Smith. "The Colonel: The Life and Legend of Robert R. McCormick, 1880–1955." Boston: Little, Brown, 1997. Chapter 13; James C. Worthy. "Shaping an American Institution: Robert E. Wood and Sears, Roebuck." Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1984. 46–47; Wayne S. Cole. "Senator Gerald P. Nye and American Foreign Relations." Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1962.] Prior to America's entry into World War II, President Roosevelt proposed helping the United Kingdom against Nazi Germany; in response, Senator Wheeler famously declared "the lend-lease-give program is the New Deal's triple-A foreign policy; it will plow under every fourth American boy." [Warren F. Kimball. "The Most Unsordid Act: Lend-Lease, 1939–1941." Baltimore, Maryland: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1969.] Senator Wheeler was even thought to have leaked the United States's Rainbow 5 War planOrange for use against Japan only days before the attack on Pearl Harboron December 7, 1941. [Richard Norton Smith. "The Colonel: The Life and Legend of Robert R. McCormick, 1880–1955." Boston: Little, Brown, 1997. 418. Smith says there is evidence the war plans were deliberately leaked as a provocation to secure a declaration of war on the United States by Hitler, the leak orchestrated either by the United States government or British Intelligence's William Stephenson.] Typical of American sentiment was the title of an anti-interventionist book, "Why Meddle in Europe?" [Boake Carter. "Why Meddle in Europe: Facts, Figures, Fictions, and Follies." New York: Robert M. McBride, 1939.] Even Bainbridge Colby, Secretary of State under Woodrow Wilson, testified to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1939 that entering World War Ihad been a mistake and the United States would have been better off even if Germany had won that conflict. ["New Bill Revives 'Cash, Carry' Plan." " The New York Times". May 5, 1939. 9.]
Fears return after World War II
, 1978. 36.]
Utahnative and Rhodes scholar, was elected president of the American Bar Associationin 1947 and dedicated his term as president to warning Americans of the dangers of "treaty law." [Frank E. Holman. "The Life and Career of a Western Lawyer, 1886–1961". Baltimore, Maryland: Port City Press, 1963; Frank E. Holman. "The Story of the "Bricker Amendment." New York City: Fund for Constitutional Government, 1954. See also Yong-nok Koo. "Politics of Dissent in U.S. Foreign Policy: A Political Analysis of the Movement for the Bricker Amendment." Seoul: American Studies Institute at Seoul National University, 1978. 21 et seq. Robert H. Jackson, later an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court] , skeptically wrote of the authority of leaders of the bar associations, who "generally pyramid conservatism. At the top of the structures our bar association officials are as conservative as cemetery trustees." Robert H. Jackson. "The Lawyer: Leader or Mouthpieces?" "Journal of the American Judicature Society." vol. 18 (October 1934). 72. Quoted by Tananbaum, 7.] While Article II of the United Nations Charterstated "Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state," an international analogue to the Tenth Amendment, Holman saw the work of the U.N. on the proposed Genocide Convention and Universal Declaration of Human Rights[Gladwin Hill. "U.N. Rights Drafts Held Socialistic: Holman, Bar Association Head, Warns They Would Renounce Many Basic U.S. Principles." "The New York Times". September 18, 1948. 4.] and numerous proposals of the International Labor Organization, a body created under the League of Nations, as being far outside the UN's powers and an invasion against American liberties. [The Genocide Convention's text can be found on-line [http://www.ohchr.org/english/law/genocide.htm here] .]
Holman cautioned the
GenocideConvention would subject Americans to the jurisdiction of foreign courts with unfamiliar procedures and without the protections afforded under the Bill of Rights. He said the Convention's language was sweeping and vague and offered a scenario where a white motorist who struck and killed a black child could be extradited to The Hagueon genocide charges. [Tananbaum, 13.] Holman's critics claimed the language was no more sweeping or vague than the state and Federal statutes that American courts interpreted every day. Duane Tananbaum, the leading historian of the Bricker Amendment, wrote "most of ABA's objections to the Genocide Convention had no basis whatsoever in reality" and his example of a car accident becoming an international incident was not possible. [Tananbaum, 14.] Eisenhower's Attorney General Herbert Brownellcalled this scenario "outlandish". [Herbert Brownell and John P. Burke. "Advising Ike: The Memoirs of Attorney General Herbert Brownell." Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 1993. 265.]
But Holman's hypothetical especially alarmed
Southern Democratswho had gone to great lengths to obstruct Federal action targeted at ending the Jim Crow system of racial segregationin the American South. They feared that, if ratified, the Genocide Convention could be used in conjunction with the Constitution's necessary-and-proper clauseto pass a Federal civil rightslaw (despite the conservative view that such a law would go beyond the enumerated powersof Article I, Section 8.) [Tananbaum, 14.] President Eisenhower's aide Arthur Larsonsaid Holman's warnings were part of "all kinds of preposterous and legally lunatic scares [that] were raised," including "that the International Court would take over our tariff and immigration controls, and then our education, post offices, military and welfare activities." [Arthur Larson. "Eisenhower: The President that Nobody Knows". New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1968. 144.] In Holman's own book advancing the Bricker Amendment he wrote the U.N. Charter meant the Federal government could:
control and regulate all education, including public and parochial schools, it could control and regulate all matters affecting civil rights, marriage, divorce, etc; it could control all our sources of production of foods and the products of the farms and factories; . . . it could regiment labor and conditions of employment. [Frank E. Holman. "The Story of the "Bricker Amendment." New York City: Fund for Constitutional Government, 1954. 38.]
were not mentioned in the Constitution, Congress authorized them for delivery of the mail as early as 1792. [An Act to Establish the Post-Office and Post Roads Within the United States. Act of February 20, 1792. ch. 7. 1 Stat. 232.]
Constitutional scholars note that the supremacy clause was designed to protect the only significant treaty into which the infant United States had entered: the Treaty of Paris of 1783, which ended the Revolutionary War and under which
Great Britainrecognized America as an independent nation. [Definitive Treaty of Peace Between the United States of America and His Britannic Majesty. Treaty of September 3, 1783. 8 Stat. 80.] Nonetheless, its wording ignited fear of the potential abuse of the treaty power from the beginning. For example, the North Carolinaratifying convention that approved the Constitution did so with a reservation asking for a constitutional amendment that
No treaties which shall be directly opposed to the existing laws of the United States in Congress assembled shall be valid until such laws shall be repealed, or made conformable to such treaty; nor shall any treaty be valid which is contradictory to the Constitution of the United States. [
Akhil Reed Amar. "America's Constitution: A Biography." New York: Random House, 2005. 307.]
Early legal precedents striking down State laws that conflicted with Federally-negotiated international treaties arose from the peace treaty with Britain, [See "
Ware v. Hylton", 3 Dall. 199 (1796), " Hopkirk v. Bell", 7 U.S. (3 Cran.) 454 (1806), [http://www.justia.us/us/7/454/] , " Higginson v. Mein", 8 U.S. (4 Cran.) 415 (1808) [http://www.justia.us/us/8/415/index.html] , " Fairfax's Devisee v. Hunter's Lessee", 11 U.S. (7 Cran.) 603 (1813), [http://www.justia.us/us/11/603/index.html] , " Martin v. Hunter's Lessee", 14 U.S. (1 Wheat.) 603 (1816), " Chirac v. Chirac's Lessee", 15 U.S. (2 Wheat.) 259 (1817), [http://www.justia.us/us/15/259/index.html] , " Orr v. Hodgson", 17 U.S. (4 Wheat.) 453 (1819) [http://www.justia.us/us/17/453/index.html] , " Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts v. New Haven", 21 U.S. (8 Wheat.) 464 (1823) [http://www.justia.us/us/21/464/index.html] , " Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts v. Town of Pawlet", 29 U.S. 480 (1830). [http://www.justia.us/us/29/480/case.html] .] but subsequent treaties were found to trump city ordinances, [" Asakura v. City of Seattle", 265 U.S. 332 (1924). [http://www.justia.us/us/265/332/] (Seattle law limiting business licenses to American citizens violates the treaty of commerce with Japan guaranteeing Japanese citizens right to conduct business in America).] state laws on escheatof land owned by foreigners [" Hauenstein v. Lynham", 100 U.S. 483 (1879) [http://www.justia.us/us/100/483/] and " Terrace v. Thompson", 263 U.S. 197 (1923) [http://www.justia.us/us/263/197/] .] and, in the 20th Century, state laws regarding tort claims. ["Garcia v. Pan American Airways", 269 App. Div. 287, 55 N.Y.S. 2d 317 (1945), affirmed 295 N.Y. 852, 67 N.E. 2d 257, "Lee v. Pan American Airways", 89 N.Y.S. 2d 888, 300 N.Y. 761, 89 N.E. 2d 258 (1949), cert. denied 339 U.S. 920 (1950).] Subsequently, in a case involving a treaty concluded with the Cherokee Indians, the Supreme Court declared "It need hardly be said that a treaty cannot change the Constitution or be held valid if it be in violation of that instrument. This results from the nature and fundamental principles of our government. The effect of treaties and acts of Congress, when in conflict, is not settled by the Constitution. But the question is not involved in any doubt as to its proper solution. A treaty may supersede a prior act of Congress, and an act of Congress may supersede a prior treaty." ["The Cherokee Tobacco", 78 U.S. (11 Wall.) 616 (1870) at 621–622. See also " Doe v. Braden", 57 U.S. (16 How.) 635 (1835). [http://www.justia.us/us/57/635/case.html] , " Botiller v. Dominguez", 130 U.S. 238 (1889). [http://www.justia.us/us/130/238/] and " The Chinese Exclusion Case" ("Chae Chan Ping v. United States"), 130 U.S. 581 (1889). [http://www.justia.us/us/130/581/] .]
Likewise, in a case regarding ownership of land by foreign nationals, the Court wrote "The treaty power, as expressed in the constitution, is in terms unlimited, except by those restraints which are found in that instrument against the action of the government, or of its departments, and those arising from the nature of the government itself, and of that of the states. It would not be contended that it extends so far as to authorize what the constitution forbids, or a change in the character of the government, or in that of one of the states, or a cession of any portion of the territory of the latter, without its consent. But, with these exceptions, it is not perceived that there is any limit to the questions which can be adjusted touching any matter which is properly the subject of negotiation with a foreign country." ["De Geoffroy v. Riggs", 133 U.S. 258 (1890) at 267.] Justice
Stephen Johnson Field, dissenting in an 1898 immigration case, wrote, "that statutes enacted by Congress, as well as treaties made by the president and senate, must yield to the paramount and supreme law of the constitution." ["United States v. Wong Kim Ark", 169 U.S. 649, 671 (1898).]
However, these prior statements seemed to be overruled by the Court's 1920 decision in "
Missouri v. Holland".
Twentieth century rulings
"Missouri v. Holland"
, writing for the Court, declared:
Acts of Congress are the supreme law of the land only when made in pursuance of the Constitution, while treaties are declared to be so when made under the authority of the United States. It is open to question whether the authority of the United States means more than the formal acts prescribed to make the convention. We do not mean to imply that there are no qualifications to the treaty-making power; but they must be ascertained in a different way. It is obvious that there may be matters of the sharpest exigency for the national well being that an act of Congress could not deal with but that a treaty followed by such an act could, and it is not lightly to be assumed that, in matters requiring national action, 'a power which must belong to and somewhere reside in every civilized government' is not to be found. [252 U.S. 416 at 433.]
Proponents of the Bricker Amendment said this language made it essential to add to the Constitution explicit limitations on the treaty-making power.
Raymond Moleywrote in 1953 that "Holland" meant "the protection of an international duck takes precedence over the constitutional protections of American citizens." [" Newsweek", August 10, 1953. 88.] In response, legal scholars such as Professor Edward Samuel Corwinof Princeton Universitysaid the language of the Constitution regarding treaties—"under the authority of the United States"—was misunderstood by Holmes, and was written to protect the 1783 peace treaty with Britain; this became "in part the source of Senator Bricker's agitation." [Edward S. Corwin. "The President: Office and Powers, 1787–1957." 4th ed. New York: New York University Press, 1957. 421. Quoted in Yong-nok Koo. "Politics of Dissent in U.S. Foreign Policy: A Political Analysis of the Movement for the Bricker Amendment." Seoul: American Studies Institute at Seoul National University, 1978. 56–57.] Professor Zechariah Chafee, Jr., of Harvard Law Schoolwrote "the Framers never talked about having treaties on the same level as the Constitution. What they did want was to make sure a state could no longer flout any lawful action taken by the nation." "Supreme", as used in Article VI, Chafee claimed, "means simply supreme over the states." [Zechariah Chafee, Jr. "Bricker Proposal Opposed." (Letter). "The New York Times". January 28, 1954. 26.]
"Pink" and "Belmont"
, writing for the majority, upheld the power of the president, finding:
That the negotiations, acceptance of the assignment and agreements and understandings in respect thereof were within the competence of the President may not be doubted. Governmental power over external affairs is not distributed, but is vested exclusively in the national government. And in respect of what was done here, the Executive had authority to speak as the sole organ of that government. The assignment and the agreements in connection therewith did not, as in the case of treaties, as that term is used in the treaty making clause of the Constitution (article 2, 2), require the advice and consent of the Senate. ["United States v. Belmont", 301 U.S. 324 (1937) at 330.]A second case from the Litvinov agreement, "United States v. Pink", also went to the Supreme Court. ["United States v. Pink", 315 U.S. 203 (1942) [http://www.justia.us/us/315/203/index.html] .] In "Pink", the New York State Superintendent of Insurance was ordered to turn over assets belonging to a Russian insurance company pursuant to the Litvinov assignment. The United States sued New York to claim the money held by the Insurance Superintendent, and lost in lower courts. However, the Supreme Court held New York was interfering with the President's exclusive power over foreign affairs, independent of any language in the Constitution—a doctrine it enunciated in "
United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp." [" United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp.", 299 U.S. 304 (1936)] —and ordered New York to pay the money to the Federal Government. The Court declared, "the Fifth Amendment does not stand in the way of giving full force and effect to the Litvinov Assignment" ["United States v. Pink". 315 U.S. 203 (1942) at 228.] and
The powers of the President in the conduct of foreign relations included the power, without consent of the Senate, to determine the public policy of the United States with respect to the Russian nationalization decrees. What government is to be regarded here as representative of a foreign sovereign state is a political rather than a judicial question, and is to be determined by the political department of the government. That authority is not limited to a determination of the government to be recognized. It includes the power to determine the policy which is to govern the question of recognition. Objections to the underlying policy as well as objections to recognition are to be addressed to the political department and not to the courts. ["United States v. Pink", 315 U.S. 203 (1942) at 229, internal quotations and citations omitted.]
Rulings during Congressional debate
Unlike in "Pink" and "Belmont", an executive agreement on
potatoimports from Canada, litigated in "United States v. Guy W. Capps, Inc.", another oft cited case, the courts declared an agreement unenforceable. ["United States v. Guy W. Capps, Inc.", 100 F.Supp. 30 (E.D. Va. 1952), affirmed 204 F.2d. 655 (4th 1953), affirmed 348 U.S. 296 (1955) [http://www.justia.us/us/348/296/index.html] ] In "Capps" the courts found that the agreement, which directly contradicted a statute passed by Congress, could not be enforced.
But the dissent of Chief Justice
Fred M. Vinsonin " Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer" (commonly referred to as the "steel seizure case") alarmed conservatives. President Harry S. Trumanhad nationalized the American steel industryto prevent a strike he claimed would interfere with the prosecution of the Korean War. Though the United States Supreme Courtfound this illegal, Vinson's defense of this sweeping exercise of executive authority was used to justify the Bricker Amendment. [" Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer", 343 U.S. 579, 667–709 (1952) (Vinson, C.J., dissenting).] Those warning of "treaty law" claimed that in the future, Americans could be endangered with the use of the executive powers Vinson supported.
Some state courts issued rulings in the 1940s and 1950s that relied on the
United Nations Charter, much to the alarm of Holman and others. In "Fujii v. California", a California law restricting the ownership of land by aliens was ruled by a state appeals court to be a violation of the U.N. Charter. ["Fujii v. State", 217 P.2d 481 (Cal. App. 2d 1950), rehearing denied 218 P.2d 596 (Cal. App. 2d 1950), reversed 242 P.2d 617 (1952).] In "Fujii", the Court declared "The Charter has become 'the supreme Law of the Land . . . any Thing in the Constitution of Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.' The position of this country in the family of nations forbids trafficking innocuous generalities but demands that every State in the Union accept and act upon the Charter according to its plain language and its unmistakable purpose and intent." ["Fujii v. State", 217 P.2d 481, 486 (Cal. App. 2d. 1950).] However, the California Supreme Court overruled, declaring that while the Charter was "entitled to respectful consideration by the courts and Legislatures of every member nation," it was "not intended to supersede existing domestic legislation." ["Fujii v. State", 242 P.2d 617, 622 (Cal. 1952)] Similarly, a New York trial court refused to consider the U.N. Charter in an effort to strike down racially restrictive covenants in housing, declaring "these treaties have nothing to do with domestic matters," citing Article 2, Section 7 of the Charter. ["Kemp v. Rubin", 69 N.Y.S.2d 680, 686 (Sup. Ct. Queens 1947).] In another covenant case, the Michigan Supreme Courtdiscounted efforts to use the Charter, saying "these pronouncements are merely indicative of a desirable social trend and an objective devoutly to be desired by all well-thinking peoples." ["Sipes v. McGhee", 316 Mich. 615, 628 (1947).] These words were quoted with approval by the Iowa Supreme Courtin overturning a lower court decision that relied on the Charter, noting the Charter's principles "do not have the force or effect of superseding our laws." ["Rice v. Sioux City Memorial Park Cemetery, Inc.", 245 Iowa 147, 60 N.W.2d 110, 116–117 (1954)]
Internationalization and the United Nations
John Foster Dullessaid restrictions were needed on treaties, until he became Secretary of State in the Eisenhower Administration.] Following the Second World War, various treaties were proposed under the aegis of the United Nations, in the spirit of collective securityand internationalism that followed the global conflict of the preceding years. In particular, the Genocide Convention, which made a crime of "causing serious mental harm" to "a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group" and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which contained sweeping language about health care, employment, vacations, and other subjects outside the traditional scope of treaties, were considered problematic by non-interventionists and advocates of limited government. [Tananbaum, 13.] Historian Stephen E. Ambrosedescribed the suspicions of Americans: "Southern leaders feared that the U.N. commitment to human rights would imperil segregation; the American Medical Associationfeared it would bring about socialized medicine." [Stephen E. Ambrose. "Eisenhower, Volume 2: The President." New York: Simon and Schuster, 1984. 68.] It was, the American Bar Associationdeclared, "one of the greatest constitutional crises the country has ever faced." ["The Bricker Amendment: A Cure Worse Than the Disease?" "Time". July 13, 1953. 20–21.]
Conservatives were worried that these treaties could be used to expand the power of the Federal government at the expense of the people and the states. In a speech to the
American Bar Association's regional meeting at Louisville, Kentuckyon April 11, 1952, John Foster Dulles, an American delegate to the United Nations, said, "Treaties make international law and they also make domestic law. Under our Constitution, treaties become the Supreme Law of the Land. They are indeed more supreme than ordinary laws, for Congressional laws are invalid if they do not conform to the Constitution, whereas treaty laws can override the Constitution." Dulles said the power to make treaties "is an extraordinary power liable to abuse." ["The Bricker Amendment: A Cure Worse Than the Disease?" "Time". July 13, 1953. 20–21.] Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen, a Republican of Illinois, declared, "we are in a new era of international organizations. They are grinding out treaties like so many eager beavers which will have effects on the rights of American citizens." [Ibid.] Eisenhower's Attorney General Herbert Brownelladmitted executive agreements "had sometimes been abused in the past." [Herbert Brownell and John P. Burke. "Advising Ike: The Memoirs of Attorney General Herbert Brownell". Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 1993. 264.] Frank E. Holman wrote Secretary of State George C. Marshallin November 1948 regarding the dangers of the Human Rights Declaration, receiving the dismissive reply that the agreement was "merely declaratory in character" and had no legal effect. [Tananbaum, 10.] The conservative ABA called for a Constitutional amendment to address what they perceived to be a potential abuse of executive power. Holman described the threat:
More or less coincident with the organization of the United Nations a "new form" of internationalism arose which undertook to enlarge the historical concept of international law and treaties to have them include and deal with the domestic affairs and internal laws of independent nations. [Frank E. Holman. "The Story of the "Bricker Amendment." New York City: Fund for Constitutional Government, 1954. viii.]
Senator Bricker thought the "one world" movement advocated by those such as
Wendell Willkie, Roosevelt's Republican challenger in the 1940 election, would attempt to use treaties to undermine American liberties. Conservatives cited as evidence the statement of John P. Humphrey, the first director of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights:
What the United Nations is trying to do is revolutionary in character.
Human rightsare largely a matter of [the] relationship between the State and individuals, and therefore a matter which has been traditionally regarded as being within the domestic jurisdiction of states. What is now being proposed is, in effect, the creation of some super national supervision of this relationship. [Frank E. Holman. "The Story of the "Bricker Amendment." New York City: Fund for Constitutional Government, 1954. 6. Holman said the Commission was "controlled by Communists and international socialists." "Story", 71.]
Frank E. Holman testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that the Bricker Amendment was needed "to eliminate the risk that through 'treaty law' our basic American rights may be bargained away in attempts to show our good neighborliness and to indicate to the rest of the world our spirit of brotherhood." [Tananbaum, 54.] W.L. McGrath, president of the Williamson Heater Company in
Cincinnati, Ohio, told the Senate that the International Labor Organization, to which he had been an American delegate, was "seeking to set itself up as a sort of international legislature to formulate socialistic laws which it hopes, by the vehicle of treaty ratification, can essentially be imposed upon most of the countries of the world." [Tananbaum, 54.]
Congress considers the proposal
President Eisenhower disagreed about the necessity of the Amendment, writing in his diary in April 1953, "Senator Bricker wants to amend the Constitution . . . By and large the logic of the case is all against Senator Bricker, but he has gotten almost psychopathic on the subject, and a great many lawyers have taken his side of the case. This fact does not impress me very much. Lawyers have been trained to take either side of any case and make the most intelligent and impassioned defense of their adopted viewpoint." [Dwight D. Eisenhower. "The Eisenhower Diaries." Edited by Robert H. Ferrell. New York: W.W. Norton, 1981. Entry for April 1, 1953, on page 233.]
Historians describe the Bricker Amendment as "the high water mark of the non-interventionist surge in the 1950s" and "the embodiment of the Old Guard's rage at what it viewed as twenty years of presidential usurpation of Congress's constitutional powers" which "grew out of sentiment both anti-Democrat and anti-presidential." [Robert A. Caro. "
The Years of Lyndon Johnson: ." New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2002. 527–528; Walter LaFeber. "America, Russia, and the Cold War, 1945–1984." New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1985. 178–179.] Bricker's pressing the issue, wrote "Time" just before the climactic vote, was "a time-bomb threat to both G.O.P. unity and White House-Congressional accord." ["On Their Knees" "Time". January 18, 1954. 20.] Senator Bricker warned "the constitutional power of Congress to determine American foreign policy is at stake." [LaFeber, 179.]
In the 82nd Congress, Senator Bricker introduced the first version of his amendment, S.J. Res. 102, drafted by Bricker and his staff. The
American Bar Associationwas still studying the issue of how to prevent an abuse of "treaty law" when Bricker introduced his resolution on July 17, 1951, without the ABA's involvement, but the Senator wanted to begin immediate debate on an issue he considered vital. [Tananbaum, 25.] Bricker was not trying to reverse the Yalta Agreement, in contrast to the goals of some of his conservative colleagues; he was worried most about what might be done by the United Nationsor under an executive agreement. [Tananbaum, 35.] A second proposal, S.J. Res 130, was introduced by Bricker on February 7, 1952, with fifty-eight co-sponsors, including every Republican except Eugene D. Millikinof Colorado. [Tananbaum, 42]
Harry S. Trumanwas adamantly opposed to limitations on executive power and ordered every executive branch agency to report on how the Bricker Amendment would affect its work and to offer this information to the Judiciary Committee. [Harry S. Truman. "Memorandum on Proposed Bills Dealing With Treaties and Executive Agreements." May 23, 1953. "Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Harry S. Truman, 1952–1953." Washington: United States Government Printing Office. 367. Available on-line [http://www.trumanlibrary.org/publicpapers/index.php?pid=1307&st=&st1= here] (accessed May 2, 2006).] Consequently, in its hearings, the Committee heard from representatives of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Labor, and the Post Office, along with the Bureau of Internal Revenue, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Bureau of Narcotics. [Tananbaum, 58.] Duane Tananbaum wrote the hearings "provided the amendment's supporters with a wider forum for their argument that a constitutional amendment was needed" and gave opponents a chance to debate the issue. [Tananbaum, 60.]
Bricker's amendment was raised as an issue in his 1952 re-election campaign. Toledo mayor
Michael V. DiSallerailed that the amendment was "an unwarranted interference with the provisions of the Constitution," but Bricker was easily elected to a second term. [Tananbaum, 64.]
83rd Congress: Consideration by the new Republican majority
Bricker introduced his proposal, S.J. Res 1, on the first day of the 83rd Congress and soon had sixty-three co-sponsors on a resolution much closer to the language of the amendment proposed by the
American Bar Association. This time, every Republican senator, including Millikin, was a co-sponsor, as were eighteen Democrats. Including Bricker, this totaled exactly the sixty-four votes that comprised two-thirds of the full Senate, the number necessary to approve a constitutional amendment. Companion measures were introduced in the United States House of Representatives, but no action was taken on them; the focus was on the Senate.
The Eisenhower Administration was caught by surprise as
Sherman Adams, Eisenhower's Chief of Staff, thought an agreement had been reached with Bricker to delay introduction of his amendment until after the Administration had studied the issue. "Bricker hoped to force the new administration's hand," wrote Duane Tananbaum. [Caro, 528; Tananbaum, 67–69.] George E. Reedy, aide to Senate minority leader Lyndon B. Johnsonof Texas, said popular support for the measure made it "apparent from the start that it could not be defeated on a straight-out vote. No one could vote against the Bricker Amendment with impunity and very few could vote against it and survive at all . . . There was no hope of stopping it through direct opposition." [Caro, 528.] Johnson told his aide Bobby Bakerit was "the worst bill I can think of" and "it will be the bane of every president we elect." [Caro, 528.]
Eisenhower privately disparaged Bricker's motives, suggesting Bricker's push for the Amendment was driven by "his one hope of achieving at least a faint immortality in American history," [Eisenhower, diary entry for July 24, 1953, page 248.] and considered the Amendment entirely unnecessary, telling
Stephen E. Ambroseit was "an addition to the Constitution that said you could not violate the Constitution." [Stephen E. Ambrose. "Eisenhower, Volume 2: The President." New York: Simon and Schuster, 1984. 68.]
Eisenhower seeks delay
Eisenhower publicly stated his opposition in his press conference of March 26, 1953: "The Bricker Amendment, as analyzed for me by the Secretary of State, would, as I understand it, in certain ways restrict the authority that the President must have, if he is to conduct the foreign affairs of this Nation effectively. . . . I do believe that there are certain features that would work to the disadvantage of our country, particularly in making it impossible for the President to work with the flexibility that he needs in this highly complicated and difficult situation." [Dwight D. Eisenhower. "The President's News Conference of March 26, 1953." "Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953." Washington: United States Government Printing Office. Available on-line [http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=9804&st=&st1= here] (accessed May 2, 2006).] Eisenhower's phrasing, "as analyzed for me by the Secretary of State," led Bricker and other conservatives to blame Dulles for misleading Eisenhower, and raised their suspicion that the Secretary of State was a tool of Eastern internationalist interests.
Eisenhower sent Attorney General
Herbert Brownellto meet with Bricker to try to delay consideration of the resolution while the administration studied it; Bricker refused, noting his original proposal was introduced over a year earlier in the previous session of Congress. [Tananbaum, 73.] Bricker was willing, however, to compromise on the language of an amendment, unlike Frank Holman, who was intent on a particular wording. However, the administration, particularly Dulles, irritated Bricker by refusing to offer an alternative to his resolution. [Tananbaum, 77.] Eisenhower privately continued to disparage the Amendment with strong language, calling it "a stupid blind violation of the Constitution by stupid, blind non-interventionists" and stating "if it is true that when you die the name of the things that bothered you the most are engraved on your skull, I'm sure I'll have there the mud and dirt of France during the invasion and the name of Senator Bricker." [Geoffrey C. Perrett. "Eisenhower". New York: Random House, 1999. 485–487.]
Owen J. Robertsled opposition to the Amendment from outside the government.] Sherman Adams wrote "Eisenhower thus found himself caught in a crossfire between the Republican conservatives and the State Department" [Adams, 106.] and stated President Eisenhower thought the Bricker Amendment was a refusal of America "to accept the leadership of world democracy that had been thrust upon it." [Sherman Adams. "Firsthand Report: The Story of the Eisenhower Administration." New York: Harper and Brothers, 1961. 104.] In 1954, Eisenhower wrote Senate majority leader William F. Knowlandof Californiastating, "Adoption of the Bricker Amendment in its present form by the Senate would be notice to our friends as well as our enemies abroad that our country intends to withdraw from its leadership in world affairs." [Adams, 104. The text of the January 25 letter is available online [http://www.eisenhowermemorial.org/presidential-papers/first-term/documents/684.cfm here] .]
Despite the Amendment's popularity and large number of sponsors, Majority Leader Taft stalled the bill itself in the Judiciary Committee at the behest of President Eisenhower. However, on June 10, ill health led Taft to resign as Majority Leader, and five days later the Judiciary Committee reported the measure to the full Senate. [Caro, 530.] No action was taken before the session adjourned in August; debate would begin in January 1954.
The long delay allowed opposition to mobilize.
Erwin N. Griswold, dean of the Harvard Law School, and Owen J. Roberts, retired Justice of the United States Supreme Court, organized the Committee for the Defense of the Constitution. [Geoffrey C. Perrett. "Eisenhower". New York: Random House, 1999. 487.] They were joined by such prominent Americans as attorney John W. Davis, [Davis, United States Solicitor Generalunder Woodrow Wilson, orchestrated the passage of the Migratory Bird Treaty (the treaty at issue in "Missouri v. Holland") after the statute protecting birds was found unconstitutional.] former Attorney General William D. Mitchell, former Secretary of War Kenneth C. Royall, former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Governor Adlai E. Stevenson, former President Harry S. Truman, Judge John J. Parker, former Justice Felix Frankfurter, " Denver Post" publisher Palmer Hoyt, the Reverend Harry Emerson Fosdick, socialist Norman Thomas, and General Lucius D. Clay. The Committee claimed the Amendment would give Congress too much power and make America's system to approve treaties "the most cumbersome in the world." [ Dwight D. Eisenhower. "The White House Years: Mandate for Change, 1953–1956." Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1963. 283.] Roberts dismissed the Amendment, declaring "we must decide whether we are to stand on the silly shibbolethof national security," a statement supporters of the Amendment eagerly seized upon. [Frank E. Holman. "The Story of the "Bricker Amendment." New York City: Fund for Constitutional Government, 1954. viii.] The Committee was joined in opposing the Amendment by the League of Women Voters, the American Association for the United Nations, and the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, one of the few bar associations to oppose the Amendment. [Sherman Adams. "Firsthand Report: The Story of the Eisenhower Administration." New York: Harper and Brothers, 1961. 106.]
Clarence Manion, former dean of the University of Notre DameLaw School, and newspaper publisher Frank E. Gannettformed organizations to support the Amendment while a wide spectrum of groups entered the debate. Supporting the Bricker Amendment were the National Association of Attorneys-General, the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Marine Corps League, National Sojourners, the Catholic War Veterans, the Kiwanis, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Grange, the American Farm Bureau, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Colonial Dames, the National Association of Evangelicals, the American Medical Association, the General Federation of Women's Clubs, and the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. In opposition were Americans for Democratic Action, the American Jewish Congress, the American Federation of Labor, B'nai B'rith, the United World Federalists, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the American Association of University Women— groups Holman characterized as "eastern seaboard internationalists." [Frank E. Holman. "The Story of the "Bricker Amendment." New York City: Fund for Constitutional Government, 1954. 17, 23.]
Eisenhower aided by Democrats
. [Dwight D. Eisenhower. "The President's News Conference of January 13, 1954." "Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1954." Washington: United States Government Printing Office. 132. Available on-line [http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=10220&st=&st1= here] (accessed June 28, 2006).]
Before the Second Session of the 83rd Congress convened, the Amendment "went through a complex and incomprehensible series of changes as various Senators struggled to find a precise wording that would satisfy both the President and Bricker." In fact, President Eisenhower himself in January 1954 said that nobody understood the Bricker Amendment but his position "was clear; he opposed any amendment that would reduce the President's power to conduct foreign policy." [Stephen E. Ambrose. "Eisenhower, Volume 2: The President." New York: Simon and Schuster, 1984. 154.] In his opposition to the Amendment, Eisenhower obtained the help of Senate Minority Leader
Lyndon Johnson, who persuaded Senator Walter F. Georgeof Georgia to sponsor his own proposal in order to sap support from Senator Bricker's. The George Substitute was introduced on January 27, 1954, and especially infuriated Bricker since George also wanted limits on treaties. [Caro, 533–534.] George warned in the Senate "I do not want a president of the U.S. to conclude an executive agreement which will make it unlawful for me to kill a cat in the back alley of my lot at night and I do not want the President of the U.S. to make a treaty with India which would preclude me from butchering a cow in my own pasture." ["Cats, Cows, Pigeons, Fleas." "Time". February 22, 1954. 28.] Senator George was ideal as an opponent as he was a hero to conservatives of both parties for his opposition to the New Dealand his survival of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's unsuccessful effort to purge him when he sought re-election in 1938. "Democrats and Republicans alike respected him and recognized his influence." [Tananbaum, 144.]
Eisenhower worked to prevent a vote, telling Republican Senators that he agreed that President Roosevelt had done things he would not have, but that the Amendment would not have prevented the
Yalta Agreement. [Stephen E. Ambrose. "Eisenhower, Volume 2: The President." New York: Simon and Schuster, 1984. 154.] By the time the Senate finally voted on the Bricker Amendment on February 26, thirteen of the nineteen Democrats who had co-sponsored it had withdrawn their support at the urging of Senators Johnson and George. [Caro, 536.] The original version of S.J. Res. 1 failed 42–50. By a 61-30 vote, the Senate agreed to substitute George's language for Bricker's — if only ninety-one senators voted, sixty-one was the necessary two-thirds vote for final approval. [Caro, 536.] Senator Herbert H. Lehmanof New Yorksaid in the debate "what we are doing is one of the most dangerous and inexcusable things that any great legislative body can do." [Caro, 538.] However, Johnson had planned carefully and had several votes in reserve. When revised Amendments came to a vote, with Vice President Richard M. Nixonpresiding over the Senate, Senator Harley M. Kilgoreof West Virginiaarrived to cast the deciding vote of "nay." The measure was defeated 60-31. In the final count, thirty-two Republicans voted for the revised Bricker Amendment and fourteen voted against. [Caro, 539.]
Senator Bricker was embittered by the defeat. "By the mid-1950s," wrote the Senator's biographer, "Bricker had become alienated from the mainstream of his own party . . . fulminating on the far right of the political spectrum." Decades after his defeat he was still furious. "Ike did it!" he said. "He killed my amendment." [Richard O. Davies. "John W. Bricker and the Slow Death of Old Guard Republicanism." Chapter 21 of "Builders of Ohio: A Biographical History". Edited by Warren Van Tine and Michael Pierce.
Columbus, Ohio: The Ohio State University Press, 2003. 279.]
The Supreme Court in 1957 declared that the United States could not abrogate the rights guaranteed to citizens in the Bill of Rights through international agreements. "
Reid v. Covert" and "Kinsella v. Krueger" concerned the prosecution of two servicemen's wives who killed their husbands abroad and were, under the status of forces[See Administrative Agreement Under Article III of the Security Treaty Between the United States of America and Japan. Agreement of February 28, 1952, 3 UST 3343, TIAS 2492, and Executive Agreement Between the United States of America and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Respecting Jurisdiction Over Criminal Offenses Committed by Armed Forces of July 27, 1942, 57 Stat. 1193, E.A.S. 355. Enacted in Britain as United States of America (Victory Forces Act) 1942, 5&6 Geo. 6, c. 31.] agreements in place, tried and convicted in American courts martial. [" Reid v. Covert", 351 U.S. 378 (1956)and " Kinsella v. Krueger", 351 U.S. 370 (1956), both reversed on rehearing as "Reid v. Covert", 354 U.S. 1 (1957) [http://supreme.justia.com/us/354/1/case.html] . See also Frederick Bernays Wiener. "Civilians Under Military Justice: The British Practice Since 1689, Especially in North America." Chicago: University of ChicagoPress, 1967. Wiener argued "Reid" and "Kinsella" before the Supreme Court on behalf of the convicted women.] The Court found the Congress had no constitutional authority to subject servicemen's dependents to the Uniform Code of Military Justiceand overturned the convictions. Justice Hugo L. Black's opinion for the Court declared:
There is nothing in [the Constitution] which intimates that treaties and laws enacted pursuant to [it] do not have to comply with the provisions of the Constitution. Nor is there anything in the debates which accompanied the drafting and ratification of the Constitution which even suggests such a result. These debates as well as the history that surrounds the adoption of the treaty provision in Article VI make it clear that the reason treaties were not limited to those made in "pursuance" of the Constitution was so that agreements made by the United States under the Articles of Confederation, including the important peace treaties which concluded the Revolutionary War, would remain in effect. It would be manifestly contrary to the objectives of those who created the Constitution, as well as those who were responsible for the Bill of Rights—let alone alien to our entire constitutional history and tradition—to construe Article VI as permitting the United States to exercise power under an international agreement without observing constitutional prohibitions. In effect, such construction would permit amendment of that document in a manner not sanctioned by Article V. The prohibitions of the Constitution were designed to apply to all branches of the National Government and they cannot be nullified by the Executive or by the Executive and the Senate combined. ["Reid v. Covert", 354 U.S. 1, 16 (1957)]In "Seery v. United States" the government argued that an executive agreement allowed it to confiscate property in
Austriaowned by an American citizen without compensation. ["Seery v. United States", 127 F. Supp. 601 (Ct. Claims. 1955). See also "Seery v. United States", 161 F. Supp. 395 (Ct. Claims 1958).] But this was rejected, the Court of Claims writing "there can be no doubt that an executive agreement, not being a transaction which is even mentioned in the Constitution, can impair constitutional rights." ["Seery v. United States", 127 F. Supp. 601, 606 (Ct. Claims. 1955).]
The United States ultimately ratified the U.N.'s Genocide Convention in 1986. [Convention on the prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide. Adopted by the U.N. General Assembly at Paris December 9, 1948. The enabling legislation was the Genocide Convention Implementation Act of 1987, also known as the Proxmire Act, Pub. L. 100–606, Act of November 4, 1988, 102 Stat. 3045, codified as 18 U.S.C. §1091 et seq.] The Convention was signed with reservations, which prevented the law being enacted if it contradicted the constitution. Several states expressed concern that this would undermine the provisions of the convention.
The Bricker Amendment is occasionally revived in Congress. For example, in 1997, Representative
Helen Chenoweth(R– Idaho) offered her version of the Bricker Amendment, H. J. Res 83 in the 105th Congress, but it died in committee without a hearing.
Timeline of dates important in consideration of the Amendment:
*March 4, 1789. The
United States Constitutioncomes into force.
*October 24, 1945. The
United Nations Chartercomes into force.
United Nations Commission on Human Rightscreated.
*February 25, 1948. The
American Bar Association's House of Delegates votes for its Committee on Peace and Law Through the United Nations to study the proposed U.N. conventions.
*September 9, 1948. The ABA House of Delegates votes to oppose the
Covenant on Human Rights.
*September 17, 1948.
American Bar Associationpresident Frank E. Holmanbegins his campaign against "treaty law" with a speech to the State Bar of Californiain Santa Barbara.
*February 1, 1949. The ABA House of Delegates votes to oppose the Genocide Convention.
*June 16, 1949. President
Harry S. Trumansends the Genocide Conventionto the United States Senatefor ratification.
*July 17, 1951. Senator
John W. Bricker(R- Ohio) introduces S. Res. 177, a sense of the Senate resolution against the Convenant on Human Rights, calling it "a covenant on human slavery or subservience to government."
*September 14, 1951. Senator Bricker introduces the first version of his constitutional amendment, S.J. Res. 102.
*February 7, 1952. Senator Bricker introduces a revised proposal, S.J. Res. 130, with 58 co-sponsors, including every Republican except Senator
Eugene D. Millikinof Colorado.
*February 22, 1952. The ABA House of Delegates vote to support a constitutional amendment to limit the treaty power.
*April 11, 1952.
John Foster Dullestells the American Bar Association's regional meeting in Louisville, Kentuckyof the dangers of treaties.
*May 21, 1952. Hearings begin before the
Senate Judiciary Committeeon S.J. Res. 130.
*June 13, 1952. The Judiciary Committee hearings conclude.
*July 7, 1952. The Second Session of the 82nd Congress adjourns without action on S.J. Res 130.
*September 15, 1952. The ABA House of Delegates votes to endorse S.J. Res. 122, introduced by Senator
Pat McCarran(D- Nevada), to limit executive agreements.
*November 4, 1952. Republican
Dwight D. Eisenhoweris elected President of the United States. Republican majorities are elected to both the United States Senateand the United States House of Representatives.
*January 3, 1953. The 83rd Congress convenes.
*January 7, 1953. Senator Bricker introduces another version of his constitutional amendment, S.J. Res. 1.
*January 20, 1953. President Eisenhower is inaugurated.
*February 4, 1953. Senator
George Smathers(R- Florida) adds his name as a co-sponsor of S.J. Res. 1, giving it 64 sponsors, exactly the two-thirds vote necessary for passage.
*February 16, 1953. Senator
Arthur V. Watkins(R- Utah) introduces S.J. Res. 43, which was the text endorsed by the ABA.
*February 18, 1953. Hearings begin before the
Senate Judiciary Committeeon S.J. Res 1 and 43.
*February 23, 1953. Holman meets with President Eisenhower, who promises he will take no public stance on the Bricker Amendment.
*March 26, 1953. President Eisenhower publicly declares his opposition to the Bricker Amendment.
*April 11, 1953. The Judicary Committee hearings end.
*June 10, 1953. Majority Leader
Robert A. Taft(R-Ohio) resigns his leadership post because of ill-health. He is replaced by Senator William F. Knowland(R- California).
*June 15, 1953. With Senator Taft no longer preventing it, the Judiciary Committee reports S.J. Res. 1 to the full Senate on a vote of 9-5.
*July 1, 1953. President Eisenhower at his weekly press conference said he did not believe a treaty could override the Constitution, but he would support a Constitutional amendment to make that explicit.
*July 17, 1953. President Eisenhower and his cabinet discuss the Amendment. He is told by Vice President
Richard M. Nixonand Attorney General Herbert Brownellthat the Amendment will split the Republican Party.
*July 21, 1953. Senate Republicans meet to discuss the issue with Attorney General Brownell, Secretary Dulles, and Senate Bricker. A compromise is reached, Bricker believes.
*July 22, 1953. Senator Knowland introduces a substitute to S.J. Res. 1 and President Eisenhower announces his support for it. Senator Bricker feels betrayed.
*August 3, 1953. The First Session of the 83rd Congress adjourns.
*January 6, 1954. The Second Session of the 83rd Congress convenes.
*January 20, 1954. Debate begins on the Bricker Amendment in the Senate.
*January 25, 1954. President Eisenhower writes Knowland in opposition to the Amendment. Six hundred members of the 300,000 member Vigilant Women for the Bricker Amendment arrive in Washington to lobby Congress.
*January 27, 1954. Senator
Walter F. George(D-Georgia) introduces his substitute to S.J. Res. 1.
*January 29, 1954. Senator
Pat McCarran(D- Nevada) introduces his substitute to S.J. Res. 1.
*January 31, 1954. Senator Bricker says on "
Meet the Press" the George Substitute met "the cardinal principles" of his original proposal.
*February 2, 1954. Senator
Homer S. Ferguson(R- Michigan) introduces an amendment to S.J. Res. 1. Senator Francis H. Case(R- South Dakota) introduces another amendment.
*February 4, 1954. Senator Bricker proposes an amendment to S.J. Res. 1.
*February 15, 1954. The first section of the Ferguson amendment is adopted, 62-20.
*February 16, 1954. The third section of the Ferguson amendment is adopted, 72-16.
*February 17, 1954. The second section of the Ferguson amendment is adopted, 44-43.
*February 25, 1954. The Bricker substitute fails, 50-42.
*February 26, 1954. The George substitute is adopted, 61-30. The amended Bricker Amendment fails on final passage, 61-30, losing by one vote.
*August 5, 1954. Senator Bricker introduces a revised proposal, S.J. Res. 181.
*December 2, 1954. The 83rd Congress adjourns.
*January 5, 1955. The 84th Congress convenes.
*January 6, 1955. Senator Bricker introduces his amendment as S.J. Res. 1.
*April 27, 1955. The Senate Judiciary Committee begins hearings on S.J. Res. 1.
*May 12, 1955. The Judiciary Committee hearings end.
*March 27, 1956. The Senate Judiciary Committee reports a revised version of S.J. Res. 1 to the full Senate.
*July 27, 1956. The 84th Congress adjourns without acting on S.J. Res. 1.
*January 3, 1957. The 85th Congress convenes.
*January 7, 1957. Senator Bricker again introduces his constitutional amendment as S.J. Res. 3.
*June 25, 1957. The Senate Judiciary Committee hold a one-day hearing on S.J. Res. 3.
*August 24, 1958. The 85th Congress adjourns.
*November 4, 1958. Senator Bricker is defeated for re-election to a third term by
Stephen M. Young.
*January 3, 1959. Senator Bricker's term ends.
Table of cases
Asakura v. City of Seattle", 265 U.S. 332 (1924). [http://www.justia.us/us/265/332/]
Botiller v. Dominguez", 130 U.S. 238 (1889). [http://www.justia.us/us/130/238/]
The Cherokee Tobacco", 78 U.S. (11 Wall.) 616 (1870). [http://www.justia.us/us/78/616/]
The Chinese Exclusion Case" ("Chae Chan Ping v. United States"), 130 U.S. 581 (1889). [http://www.justia.us/us/130/581/]
Chirac v. Chirac's Lessee", 15 U.S. (2 Wheat.) 259 (1817). [http://www.justia.us/us/15/259/index.html]
De Geoffroy v. Riggs", 133 U.S. 258 (1890) [http://www.justia.us/us/133/258/index.html]
Doe v. Braden", 57 U.S. (16 How.) 635 (1835). [http://www.justia.us/us/57/635/case.html]
Fairfax's Devisee v. Hunter's Lessee", 11 U.S. (7 Cran.) 603 (1813). [http://www.justia.us/us/11/603/index.html]
Foster v. Nielson", 27 U.S. (2 Pet.) 253 (1829). [http://www.justia.us/us/27/253/index.html]
*"Fujii v. State", 217 P.2d 481 (Cal. App. 2d 1950), rehearing denied 218 P.2d 596 (Cal. App. 2d 1950), reversed 242 P.2d 617 (1952).
*"Garcia v. Pan American Airways", 269 App. Div. 287, 55 N.Y.S. 2d 317 (1945), affirmed 295 N.Y. 852, 67 N.E. 2d 257.
Hauenstein v. Lynham", 100 U.S. 483 (1879). [http://www.justia.us/us/100/483/]
Higginson v. Mein", 8 U.S. (4 Cran.) 415 (1808). [http://www.justia.us/us/8/415/index.html]
Hopkirk v. Bell", 7 U.S. (3 Cran.) 454 (1806). [http://www.justia.us/us/7/454/]
*"Kemp v. Rubin", 69 N.Y.S.2d 680 (Sup. Ct. Queens 1947).
Kinsella v. Krueger", 351 U.S. 470 (1956) [http://www.justia.us/us/351/470/index.html] , reversed on rehearing, 354 U.S. 1 (1957) [http://www.justia.us/us/354/1/index.html] . [http://www.justia.us/us/351/487/index.html]
*"Lee v. Pan American Airways", 89 N.Y.S. 2d 888, 300 N.Y. 761, 89 N.E. 2d 258 (1949), cert. denied 339 U.S. 920 (1950).
Martin v. Hunter's Lessee", 14 U.S. (1 Wheat.) 603 (1816)
Missouri v. Holland", 252 U.S. 416 (1920). [http://www.justia.us/us/252/416/index.html]
Orr v. Hodgson", 17 U.S. (4 Wheat.) 453 (1819). [http://www.justia.us/us/17/453/index.html]
Reid v. Covert", 351 U.S. 487 (1956), reversed on rehearing, 354 U.S. 1 (1957) [http://www.justia.us/us/354/1/index.html] . [http://www.justia.us/us/351/487/index.html]
*"Rice v. Sioux City Memorial Park Cemetery", 245 Iowa 147, 60 N.W.2d 110 (1954), cert dismissed as improvidently granted, 349 U.S. 70 (1955) [http://www.justia.us/us/349/70/index.html]
*"Seery v. United States", 127 F. Supp. 601 (Ct. Claims 1955).
*"Sipes v. McGhee", 316 Mich. 615 (1947).
Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts v. New Haven", 21 U.S. (8 Wheat.) 464 (1823). [http://www.justia.us/us/21/464/index.html]
Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts v. Town of Pawlet", 29 U.S. 480 (1830). [http://www.justia.us/us/29/480/case.html]
*"State v. McCullagh", 153 Pac. 557 (Kan. 557).
*"State v. Sawyer", 94 Atl. 886 (Maine 1915).
Terrace v. Thompson", 263 U.S. 197 (1923). [http://www.justia.us/us/263/197/]
United States v. Belmont", 301 U.S. 324 (1937) [http://www.justia.us/us/301/324/index.html]
United States v. Guy W. Capps, Inc.", 100 F.Supp. 30 (E.D. Va. 1952), affirmed 204 F.2d. 655 (4th 1953), affirmed 348 U.S. 296 (1955) [http://www.justia.us/us/348/296/index.html]
*"United States v. McCullagh." 221 Fed 288 (D Kan. 1915).
United States v. Pink", 315 U.S. 203 (1942) [http://www.justia.us/us/315/203/index.html]
*"United States v. Shauver", 214 Fed 154 (E.D Ark. 1914).
United States v. Wong Kim Ark", 169 U.S. 649 (1898) [http://supreme.justia.com/us/169/649/]
Ware v. Hylton", 3 U.S. (3 Dall.) 199 (1796). [http://www.justia.us/us/3/199/index.html]
Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer", 343 U.S. 569 (1952). [http://www.justia.us/us/343/579/index.html]
Table of statutes, treaties, and international agreements
*An Act Concerning Aliens. Act of June 25, 1798, ch. 58, 1 Stat. 570.
*An Act for the Punishment of Certain Crimes against the United States. Act of July 14, 1798, ch. 74, 1 Stat. 596.
*An Act Respecting Alien Enemies. Act of July 6, 1798, ch. 66, 1 Stat. 577.
*An Act to Establish an Uniform Rule of Naturalization. Act of June 18, 1798, ch. 54, 1 Stat. 566.
*An Act to Establish the Post-Office and Post Roads Within the United States. Act of February 20, 1792. ch. 7. 1 Stat. 232.
*Administrative Agreement Under Article III of the Security Treaty Between the United States of America and Japan. Agreement of February 28, 1952. 3 UST 3343. TIAS 2492.
*Convention for the Protection of Migratory Birds of August 16, 1916, T.S. No. 628, 39 Stat. 1702.
*Definitive Treaty of Peace Between the United States of America and His Britannic Majesty. Treaty of September 3, 1783. 8 Stat. 80.
*Executive Agreement Between the United States of America and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Respecting Jurisdiction Over Criminal Offenses Committed by Armed Forces of July 27, 1942. 57 Stat. 1193, E.A.S. 355. Enacted in Britain as United States of America (Victory Forces Act) 1942, 5&6 Geo. 6, c. 31.
*Genocide Convention Implementation Act of 1987, also known as the Proxmire Act, Pub. L. 100–606, Act of November 4, 1988, 102 Stat. 3045, codified as 18 U.S.C. §1091 et seq.
*Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Act of July 3, 1918, ch. 148, 40 Stat. 755, 18 U.S.C.§703.
*Neutrality Act of 1935. Act of August 31, 1935, ch. 837, 49 Stat. 1081.
*Neutrality Act of 1936. Act of February 18, 1936, ch. 106, 49 Stat. 1153.
*Neutrality Act of 1937. Act of May 1, 1937, ch. 146, 50 Stat. 121.
*The United Nations Charter. 59 Stat. 1031, T.S. 993.
"This list contains only works with significant content related to the Bricker Amendment."
*John W. Bricker. "John W. Bricker Reflects Upon the Fight for the Bricker Amendment". Edited by Marvin R. Zahniser. "Ohio History". Vol. 87, no. 4. Autumn 1978. 322–333. [http://publications.ohiohistory.org/ohstemplate.cfm?action=detail&Page=0087322.html&StartPage=322&EndPage=333&volume=87¬es=&newtitle=Volume%2087%20Page%20322]
*Robert A. Caro. "The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Master of the Senate." New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2002. ISBN 0-394-52836-0.
*Richard O. Davies. "Defender of the Old Guard: John Bricker and American Politics".
Columbus, Ohio: The Ohio State UniversityPress, 1993.
Frank E. Holman. "The Life and Career of a Western Lawyer, 1886–1961." Baltimore, Maryland: Port City Press, 1963.
Frank E. Holman. "The Story of the "Bricker Amendment." New York City: Fund for Constitutional Government, 1954.
*Nelson Richards. "The Bricker Amendment and Congress's Failure to Check the Inflation of the Executive's Foreign Affairs Powers, 1951-1954", 94 Cal. L. Rev. 175 (2006).
*Duane Tananbaum. "The Bricker Amendment Controversy: A Test of Eisenhower's Political Leadership".
Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1988.
*United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on the Judiciary. "Treaties and Executive Agreements: Hearings Before a Subcommittee of the Committee on the Judiciary, Eighty-second Congress, Second Session, on S.J. Res 130, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of the United States Relating to the Making of Treaties and Executive Agreements." Washington, D.C.:
United States Government Printing Office, 1952.
*United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on the Judiciary. Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments. "Treaties and Executive Agreements: Hearings Before a Subcommittee of the Committee on the Judiciary, Eighty-third Congress, Second Session, on S.J. Res 1, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of the United States Relating to the Making of Treaties and Executive Agreements, and S.J. Res 43, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of the United States Relating to the Legal Effects of Certain Treaties." Washington, D.C.:
United States Government Printing Office, 1953.
*United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on the Judiciary. "Constitutional Amendment Relative to Treaties and Executive Agreements, 83rd Congress, 1st session." Senate Report 412. Calendar 408. Washington, D.C.:
United States Government Printing Office, 1953.
*United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on the Judiciary. Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments. "Treaties and Executive Agreements: Hearings Before a Subcommittee of the Committee on the Judiciary, Eighty-fourth Congress, First Session, on S.J. Res 1, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of the United States Relating to the Legal Effects of Certain Treaties and Other International Agreements." Washington, D.C.:
United States Government Printing Office, 1955.
*United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on the Judiciary. Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments. "Treaties and Executive Agreements: Hearings Before a Subcommittee of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, Eighty-fifth Congress, First Session, on S.J. Res 3, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of the United States Relating to the Legal Effect of Certain Treaties and Other International Agreements." Washington, D.C.:
United States Government Printing Office, 1958.
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
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