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June 11, 2002

Who can End a Treaty?

It takes an extraordinary consensus to adopt a treaty, a two-thirds vote of the US Senate after negotiation by the President. Treaties are more than normal legislation, since once passed, they supersede all laws at the state and federal level and even override the Constitution itself (see Art. VI, section 2).
...Yet the Bush administration claims to be able to abrogate the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty without the agreement of Congress in any way. A group of House members are challenging this unilateral power in court.
...As trade treaties increasingly override US laws, a power by the President to unilaterally pull out of treaties, especially if exercised in a selective manner, could rapidly evolve into absolute Presidential supremacy. Any interest group effected by trade would be subject to threat or carrot by the President's approach to treaties.
...It's doubtful this Congressional lawsuit will win, but it raises a critical issue in a world where treaties could have increasing power in our lives.

Posted by Nathan at June 11, 2002 08:41 AM

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