The U.N. versus the U.S. Constitution

Posted by on March 9, 2011 3:41 pm
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Categories: Featured Entries

As the situation in Libya has deteriorated, there has been increasing chatter amongst the chattering classes as to whether the United States will impose a no-fly zone over that country much like we did to Iraq between the two Iraqi wars. Now, I’m all for a debate about whether imposing such a zone, and the resultant risk to American military lives, should be considered an existential threat to our national security (personally, I have my reservations).

But the usual coterie of Leftists have predictably erupted in a snit over us even having this discussion without first going through that most beloved of Leftist institutions – The United Nations.

It’s for another post to discuss whether it’s a legitimate foreign policy goal of the U.S. to impose a no-fly zone over Libya. But it is time, once and for all, to destroy the Globalists’ assertion that the U.S. is bound, by our membership in the U.N., to subject our Constitution to the whims and vagaries of that institution.

Robert Naiman, in a piece up over at FireDogLake, pens the following regarding whether the U.S. can establish, unilaterally, a no-fly zone over Libya:

The United Nations Charter is not an obscure document that can be safely ignored when it is convenient to do so. It is the founding document of the United Nations. It is the Constitution of the world. (emphasis mine)
And it is legally binding on the United States, because it is a treaty obligation. According to the U.S. Constitution, treaty obligations are “the supreme law of the land.”

Well, Mr. Naiman, as my mother used to say, saying something is so doesn’t necessarily make it so.

I’m not sure exactly what part of the Constitution Mr. Naiman is thinking of (of course being a leftist who’s a member of an organization, Just Foreign Policy, who has as members of its Board such luminary Leftists as Julian Bond and Tom Hayden, I’m pretty sure that he doesn’t feel the need to actually read that document) but it’s not in the U.S. Constitution that I’ve read.

Perhaps he’s thinking of the Supremacy Clause (Article 6, Paragraph 2) which states:

“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; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.”

But if that’s the place, he’s missed the whole point of the Clause, which Supreme Court decisions throughout our history have ruled apply to the supremacy of Federal laws and treaties over state statutes which are in conflict with Federal statutes (he’s also ignoring that little clause in there which states: which shall be made in Pursuance thereof).

But let’s not quibble over little nits here in a section of the Constitution which is dealing with the relationship between the U.S. federal government and the states. Let’s even lay aside for the moment that Mr. Naiman’s assertion that somehow a treaty with the U.N. or any other foreign entity takes precedence over the U.S. Constitution would, in effect, ammend the Constitution in a manner which violates Article V which deals with the various ways of amending the Constitution.

Let’s just look at what the Supreme Court of the United States of America, in Reid v Covert, October,1956, opined about that notion:

“There is nothing in this language which intimates that treaties and laws enacted pursuant to them do not have to comply with the provisions of the Constitution nor is there anything in the debates which accompanied the drafting and ratification which even suggest such a result…”

or this little nugget from the same ruling:

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. (See: Elliot’s Debates 1836 ed. – pgs 500-519).

And rather than compelling you to wade through assorted writings of the Founders and other Supreme Court cases which clearly stated the same (in the off-hand chance that Mr. Naiman and his ilk would caterwaul that this is just one case), I leave you with this closing quote from the same ruling:

“This Court has regularly and uniformly recognized the supremacy of the Constitution over a treaty.” – Reid v. Covert, October 1956, 354 U.S. 1, at pg 17

Therefore, Mr. Naiman, I’m not sure just exactly where you divine this notion that somehow our membership in the United Nations subjects our foreign policy to their jurisdiction but it certainly isn’t found in the U.S. Constitution itself.

You are certainly entitled to your own opinion as to the wisdom of the U.S. imposing a “no-fly zone” over Libya. You are certainly entitled to believe that our invasion of Iraq was a bad idea. But what you’re not entitled to do is to invent Constitutional notions out of whole cloth.

And if you wish to make the U.S. Constitution subject to foreign treaties such as our treaty with the U.N., well, there’s even a path for you to follow to realize your vision of a U.S. that is subject to the whims of the United Nations.

You’ll find it under Article V.

18 responses to The U.N. versus the U.S. Constitution

  1. Lady_Penguin March 9th, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    Outstanding write-up, eburke. The Leftists just can’t help themselves, it is their fervent wish to see the end of United States sovereignty. They make every effort to push us under a global, one world government, so that they themselves can rule the world. I don’t think that is as far-fetched an idea as one might have believed in the past. Our only hope is that we let the people know the truth, and push back when this happens.

    • SEC March 9th, 2011 at 5:29 pm

      Agreed Penguin, eburke did a wonderful job with this article.

      One thing I would like to add to your comment, when you said the Leftists want to rule the world- as much as that seems to be their goal, it would be hard to achieve when they’ve made a laughing stock of this country, and of themselves in particular. All world leaders see is Obama’s butt when he bows to dictators. Can you imagine what Putin and Hu Jintao say about him and his leadership abilities away from the microphones.

  2. bobmontgomery March 9th, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    EB, this wailing and gnashing of teeth over consideration by politicians on both sides of the aisle for operations over the State of Libya, can you imagine what it will be like when it comes time to consider operations over the State of Mexico?

    • eburke March 9th, 2011 at 6:36 pm

      I’m tempted to chuckle at your comment, bob, except for the part of me that knows that it’s not as far-fetched as it might seem.

    • beaglescout March 10th, 2011 at 1:00 pm

      No matter how much gas we get from Libya, we get far more from Mexico. The failed nation on the southern border is a huge threat to the stability of the US and will need to be dealt with someday.

      The longer we wait, the worse it will get.

      • bobmontgomery March 10th, 2011 at 1:21 pm

        What a shame that in the humongous Executive Branch, with the Czar of this and the Council on That and the Office for The Other, there isn’t a Department of Priorities. Oh wait! Those directives come through BOTUS! Sorry; it’s being taken care of. My bad.

        • eburke March 10th, 2011 at 3:28 pm

          I love snark on a Thursday (well…for that matter, on any other day that ends in y)

          • bobmontgomery March 10th, 2011 at 4:11 pm

            Presidents past have been followed around by a guy carrying “the football”. This one is always accompanied by a guy carrying a suitcase full of spare batteries for BOTUS.

  3. SEC March 9th, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    As I said terrific article eburke. The cuts in funding for the UN are a drop in the bucket compared to our annual costs with them. I have never seen an American Ambassador to the UN such as Susan Rice. About the only time you ever hear anything about her is when she is extending her tin cup for more US funding for failed UN programs. John Bolton has more knowledge and is much more vocal on foreign policy issues than the current holder of that position.

    • eburke March 9th, 2011 at 6:39 pm

      Thanks for the kind words, SEC. The inability (or, as is likely the case) the unwillingness of these people to read the clear language of the Constitution and SCOTUS rulings boggle the mind. Apparently, “It would be manifestly contrary to the objectives of those who created the Constitution,” isn’t quite clear enough for them.

      And you’re right, John Bolton has forgotten more about foreign policy than Ms. Rice will ever know.

  4. StephC March 9th, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    The UN clearly needs its charter revoked.

    FDR strikes again from the grave.

    • cactusjack March 9th, 2011 at 9:42 pm

      One of the (many) problems with the UN is that when it does (rarely) do something good, it is either by accident, or it is ignored by the Third World-ish, fund-skimming, martini-swilling, Swiss boarding school-kids-depositing, fund-o-crats who run the place because it is not in their home regime’s interest, to wit: 1) the UN Charter clearlly sets out a nation’s interest to make a pre-emptive military strike in its own defense a la Israel in 1967 – but that never gets air time due to the Helen Thomas mindset still lingering after her in the MSM; 2) resolutions on the books in 2003 gave the US alone, UK alone, or them together, the *legal*right as member of the UN to strike Iraq for its compliance failures but unaccountably GWB never pressed that; 3) 1950 the UN authorized collective UN defense of South Korea against North Korea’s invasion – only because right at the moment Russia was not in the room on the Security Council! – a freak accident , in other words. Weigh what the UN has accidentally gotten right vs. the corruption it has worked or sheltered in the world – the latter far outweighs the former these last 60 or so years.

  5. YLovell March 9th, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    I am so glad you Patriots have started up this site. Now I don’t have to sift through all the chaff to find well thought out writing.

    You all inspire me to carry on. Thanks

    Eburke, you gave me so many “talking points” within this post to run with for days. I’m sorry I declared for Lent I would not post any political article on my Facebook page. Fortunately, I find that more “friends” have been paying attention than I imagined as I have many comments asking me to say it ain’t so.

    Unfortunatley, Even though I keep trying to direct them to this site, and that other site full of chaff, I don’t think they have picked up the que. I’m sure I feel like Coldwarrior and Ron Robinson and Mr. Bushmills in this regard( in an extremely microcosmic way , of course) You can lead an Elephant to water but you can’t make him trumpet.

    • eburke March 9th, 2011 at 8:39 pm

      Many thanks for the kind words, Y, both personally and on behalf of the site. Yeah, there is some pretty awesome talent over here that I’m honored to be associated with, starting with the E-i-C, the Big Dog himself, Mr. Perry White.

      And as for your conundrum, Lent is now 39 days from being over 🙂 And I’m thinking that embedding *links* to political articles isn’t exactly the same thing as actually *posting* the article (but you may want to check with a Higher Authority than I on that 🙂

      Glad you enjoy your time over here. We’ll keep trying to make it worth the effort.

      • YLovell March 9th, 2011 at 9:01 pm

        I LOVE the Daily Planet. Thank you, Mr. White.

  6. cactusjack March 9th, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    Not only our “demi-gods” (Jefferson’s admiring term for the Framers) from the 18th century, but modern thinkers have opined in your favor on this subject, Jaded. One of the greatest international lawyers of the 20th century no less. His name was J.Reuben Clark, US Undersecretary of State. He wrote the famous Clark Memorandum clarifying the Monroe Doctrine in modern times, and served both Republican and Democrat Administrations, because his brilliance and skill were unquestioned. When they met in San Francisco to charter the United Nations, he was asked whether he thought it was a good idea or not. His answer was – it was not – but for a very interesting reason: because all member nations were not required by the UN charter to be democracies as a term of admssion. The de facto tyrannies that did not recognize unalieanble rights, would make a mess of it. In time, such an organization or organized, should collapse of its own weight. By that time (late 1940s)Democrat Administrations in power chose to ignore Clark’s warning but time has shown tyranny has only gotten more brazen, and proved him clearly right about the UN.

  7. cactusjack March 10th, 2011 at 8:00 am

    great column eburke on a perennial problem. Sorry for the misnomer above, I was reading too many posts too fast!

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