"Under Article 6 Section 2 of the Constitution, treaties that receive the advice and consent of the Senate will become the 'supreme law of the land.' The writers of the Constitution clearly believed that all treaties presented to the Senate should undergo the most thorough scrutiny before being agreed upon. ... We request that no treaties be brought to the Senate floor during a lame-duck period and will oppose efforts to consider a treaty during this time."
So said 36 conservative senators in a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., back on Sept. 20 of this year. They signed the letter stating they would "oppose efforts to consider" any treaty during the lame-duck session
Well, here we are two months later, in a lame duck, and not only are Sen. Reid, and his Senate Democrats pushing a treaty, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, but two conservative senators who signed the letter excerpted above voted with Democrats to bring the treaty to the floor for consideration.
Now a vote to bring the treaty up for debate is not a vote for the treaty, but constituents should keep a close eye on how Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Scott Brown, R-Mass., vote on final passage (Hatch has since said he intends to vote against the treaty on final passage). All treaties require a two-thirds majority of the Senate before they become the 'supreme law of the land', and therefore President Obama must convince Brown and Hatch, or two other letter signatories, to renege on their no-treaties-in-a-lame-duck promise.
In regards to the CRPD, it is a promise worth keeping. Signed by Obama on July 30, 2009, the CRPD created a Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that has already issued reports on how Tunisia, Spain and Peru treat their disabled populations.
These reports have a scary Orwellian ring and do not carry the force of law, but they do offer liberal activists an opportunity to advance political agendas unrelated to their mandate. The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, for example, has issued reports criticizing the United States for holding unlawful combatants at Guantanamo Bay, abusing the rights of indigenous populations in other countries and not banning the death penalty. And the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women regularly pushes for expanded access to abortion, the legalization of prostitution and reduced parental rights.
Furthermore, the treaty does nothing to help Americans with disabilities today. The United States already has a plethora of laws on the books protecting the rights of disabled Americans and granting them ample power to enforce those laws in federal and state courts.
Besides the Americans with Disabilities Act, disabled citizens already are protected by the Rehabilitation Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Telecommunications Act, the Air Carrier Access Act, the Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act, the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act and the Architectural Barriers Act.
As do a slew of regulatory bodies including: the Civil Rights Division in the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Federal Transit Administration, the Office for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education and the Civil Rights Center in the U.S. Department of Labor ... to name just a few.
Passing the CRPD would do nothing to help disabled individuals here in the United States or abroad. At most, it would create a couple hundred new jobs for meddling international bureaucrats.
The conservatives who signed the letter promising to oppose all treaties in the lame duck should keep their promise and vote against the CRPD on final passage Tuesday.