Strip-Mining the Constitution

The Sound-Byte

We do not have to "go along to get along" with ... programs that will inevitably reshape our society into some kind of "New World Order" in which we have signed away our sovereignty to international organizations as surely as the coal-belt farmers signed away their top soil to the strip mining companies.

The Details

Folks in the coal belt learned the hard way about how to read contracts after they sold the "mineral rights" to their farms. When they thought of a "mine" they thought of a hole in the ground from which deeply buried minerals were painstakingly extracted. They got some quick cash in exchange for some stuff they would never miss. It helped keep the family farm going through hard times.

Then the bull-dozers showed up and they learned about a new method of mining. Strip mining didn't rely on a narrow shaft innocuously tucked away in a corner of the cow pasture -- instead it involved a wholesale removal of all the top-soil from the pasture. Panic! They can't do this! Or can they? Unfortunately, their lawyers told them that since the method of removal of the minerals was not specified, there was nothing that could be done to save the family farm.

Our nation is facing a similar threat today from poorly thought-out treaties.

Most people think that the Bill of Rights is a nearly impenetrable wall that protects our civil liberties, assuring us due process, just compensation for government takings, the right to self-protection, religious and intellectual freedom, individual and states' rights. These rights are protected in Article 5 of the Constitution by a lengthy process for amending the Constitution that requires the approval of two-thirds of the House of Representatives and of the Senate (or a Constitutional Convention of the states) followed by ratification by three-fourths of the states.

But there is an insidious "trap-door" for effectively stripping away any portion of the Constitution as surely and completely as the top soil above a strip mine. That trap-door is the second paragraph of Article 6 of the Constitution, which when stripped of its subordinate clauses reads

This Constitution ... and all Treaties made ... under the Authority of the United States ... shall be the supreme Law of the Land ....

A strict constructionist interpretation of the phrase "under the Authority of the United States" may be taken to stipulate that treaties must be consistent with the powers delegated to the United States by the states and the people. More liberal interpretations dismiss the clause as only distinguishing treaties made by the United States from those made by other entities.

This clause was added to the Constitution to assure other nations that our court system would honor any treaties which our government entered into.

So what's the problem? Of course we want to be responsible members of the community of nations and to honor our commitments. The problem is two-fold:

A treaty is much easier to ratify than a Constitutional amendment. According to Article 2, Section 2, Paragraph 2 of the Constitution, it only takes the President's signature and two-thirds of the Senators present to make a treaty part of the supreme law of the land. The House of Representatives, who speaks most directly for the people, has no say. The states, who delegated a portion of their authority to the Federal government by ratifying the Constitution, have no say. A stroke of the pen, and a quick vote, and the treaty is the law of the land. Kinda neat?

Treaties are often massive in size, and yet leave many details unspecified. This is where we need to recall the lesson learned by the unfortunate farmers who traded their mineral rights for some quick cash. It is too easy for the implications of various provisions of a complex contract (or treaty) to be overlooked. This is especially true since the ratification process for a treaty requires far less public scrutiny than the ratification process for a Constitutional amendment.

A stroke of the pen, and a quick vote, and the treaty is the law of the land. Kinda neat -- if you are a globalist seeking to subvert the Constitution of the United States to a "New World Order."

So now you are thinking to yourself, that guy is one of those conspiracy nuts or some protectionist-isolationist Neanderthal. But am I? Consider this. The World Trade Organization (WTO) recently ruled after secret deliberations that allow no appeal process that the United States must buy foreign oil that does not meet our environmental standards. In exchange we get to force the Europeans to buy our food products that contain additives that the European Union does not like. By entering into the World Trade Organization, both the United States and the European Union have sacrificed sovereignty to decide what health and environmental standards we want for our respective societies. As any multi-culturalist will tell you, different societies have different values that may work for one but not for another, and we shouldn't force our values onto other societies. But that is exactly what the tribunal at the WTO has done -- forced other societies' standards onto both the United States and the European Union.

This one example is just the tip of the iceberg. The WTO is still young, and the above are among the first rulings to come out of the WTO. The members of the WTO meet from time to time for talks aimed at expanding the scope of the WTO. Other international groups are pushing questionable environmental treaties (like that from Kyoto that Vice President Al Gore is so fond of) and treaties that affect parental rights, the definition of a family, and reproductive rights. Do we really want to allow, for example, some international agency to decide that we need to restrict our population and that the appropriate means is the approach used in Communist China? [forced abortions]

We do not have to "go along to get along" with these kinds of programs that will inevitably reshape our society into some kind of "New World Order" in which we have signed away our sovereignty to international organizations as surely as the coal-belt farmers signed away their top soil to the strip mining companies. The quick cash that is apparently now flowing from such treaties will not be so attractive when we see the top-soil of our entire value system being carted off by the international strip miners of our Constitution.

For Further Information Check Out These Books

Below we list a number of books that relate to treaties we have made or are considering. If you know of any other books in print, please let us know.

Book Cover The Great Betrayal: How American Sovereignty and Social Justice Are Sacrificed to the Gods of the Global Economy
Patrick J. Buchanan
The architects of NAFTA and GATT have sold out the middle class and turned their backs on the nation.

Book Cover The Myth of Free Trade: The Pooring of America : Competition and the Myth of Free Trade
Dr. Ravi Batra, Raveendra N. Batra
What is commonly presented to the American people as "Free Trade" is not truly "Free", and does not benefit the American people.

Book Cover Hot Talk, Cold Science: Global Warming's Unfinished Debate, Second Edition
S. Fred Singer, Frederick Seitz
The scare talk of global warming is shown by cold scientific analysis to be nothing but hot air, when viewed in the context of the climate record of the past 3000 years. The proposed Global Climate Treaty, or UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) is unsupported by scientific evidence and potentially very harmful.

Copyright © 1999 Daniel Weyrich.

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Last updated: May 11, 2000; Version: 1.3