The U.N. versus the U.S. Constitution
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 â€œthe supreme law of the land.â€
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 inÂ the U.S. Constitution that I’ve read.
Perhaps he’s thinking of the Supremacy Clause (Article 6, Paragraph 2)Â 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,Â 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 â€“ let alone alien to our entire constitutional history and tradition â€“ to construe Article VI as permitting the United States to exercise power UNDER an international agreement, without observing constitutional prohibitions. (See: Elliotâ€™s Debates 1836 ed. â€“ 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.