(Dick Morris Is Nuts)
Political commentator Dick Morris (among others) has been running around all over the place bleating about how the passage of the United Nations’ Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) is going to result in the loss of the gun rights currently enjoyed by Americans under the Second Amendment to our Constitution.
He was doing it again on Sean Hannity’s radio show on Friday, 3 Aug. Here’s Morris’s thesis:
Obama signs the treaty (which has currently died in the UN because of lack of agreement, actually) after he’s re-elected. For a treaty to bind the United States it must be ratified by 2/3 of the Senate, per the Constitution. But according to Morris – who acknowledges that such ratification is virtually impossible – under the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties if the Senate fails to act on ratification the ATT will automatically take effect solely on the basis of Obama’s signature, and that Harry Reid will refuse to bring it to a vote if the Democrats retain control of the Senate. The treaty then becomes the “supreme law of the land”, superseding the Constitution and the Second Amendment and enabling Draconian gun laws, confiscation, the sky falling, etc.
Phew!… Follow me so far? Okay.
Morris’s thesis is so full of holes that if it were cheese it would be a premium Swiss. I don’t know where Morris comes up with this stuff. He must just “hear” something and, without doing any research at all, run wild with it. Anyway, here are the facts.
The Vienna Convention went into effect in 1980, but unfortunately for Morris’s thesis, even though this country is a signatory, the Convention has never been ratified by the Senate and so has absolutely no force and is not binding on this country, just like any other treaty that isn’t ratified. Period.
Further, there’s nothing that I’ve read in the Vienna Convention that does what Morris claims, anyway. Nothing at all about unratified presidential signatures making a treaty binding on a country whose own constitution requires treaty ratification. So his theory of an Obama signature on the ATT without Senate ratification actually meaning anything is ridiculous.
“This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land;…”
So far, so good. But here’s where the rubber meets the road:
“… and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”
In other words, what it’s saying is that the Constitution, federal laws, and treaties take precedence over STATE laws and constitutions. That’s all. There’s not one syllable in there about treaties having more power than the Constitution itself.
The reality is that no treaty can be used as a de facto amendment to the Constitution, as the Constitution is quite specific about how it can be amended and allows only two methods: the clearly detailed amendment process requiring 2/3 ratification by the states, or a constitutional convention. Any treaty that conflicts with the Constitution or its amendments is automatically null and void.
And in fact, in the 1957 landmark case of Reid v. Covert the Supreme Court held exactly that, stating “this Court has regularly and uniformly recognized the supremacy of the Constitution over a treaty,”.
It’s time for Morris and others Chicken Littling this issue (yes, I’m looking at YOU, NRA!) to drop it. It’s ridiculous and meaningless, and lying for political gain is no less disgusting coming from the Right than it is from the Left. Frankly, I consider it even worse, because we have the facts on our side. We don’t have to resort to lying and political chicanery.
This stupid UN treaty has no more chance of affecting our national gun laws than I do of beating Shaq at basketball.
© Brian Baker 2012