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Skinning Cats: Legal Means to Disarm the Second Amendment
Vanity | May 6, 2007 | Mark Edward Vande Pol

Posted on 05/06/2007 8:21:20 PM PDT by Carry_Okie

There are few things that keep me up at night, but this is one of them. It may be cynicism, but more likely it’s the long sad experience of watching the courts over the years. So when your side finally wins one that should have you celebrating, and yet you walk away with a knot in your gut, it’s probably warranted.

Senior Judge Laurence H. Silberman’s majority opinion in Parker v. District of Columbia was a thing of beauty, affirming armed self-defense as an individual right pre-existing the Constitution. It was almost hard to believe. Maybe that's what’s bugging me. Such wins are so few and far between that when you do finally see one, you’re left waiting for the other shoe to drop.

For decades this property rights activist has witnessed the slow destruction of small landowners’ means to make a living. News stories occasionally recount the outrage of property owners chased off their land by armed agents of the state. Game officials are now trained in riot control, wearing flak vests, and have little to no background in game management. Streams are fenced, preventing even wildlife from getting a drink. It’s spooky.

The principal means instituting these evils are scads of rulings from the Federal bench with virtually no bases in constitutional law, at least, so it appears at first. What’s less commonly known is that the people who wield that power actually operate on a powerful legal foundation based in statutes pursuant to treaty law, and therein lies the rub as far as gun owners are concerned, or should be.

Treaties are powerful. Nations are formed and surrender by treaties (the very existence of the United States is acknowledged by the Treaty of Paris). So given that the leftists have made such use of them in land control, perhaps it’s not such a stretch for gun rights people to give treaties and international law more thought.

We’ll start with the scope of their powers. The Constitution, Article VI, Clause 2 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.”

Treaty law supersedes both Congressional statues and all state laws, which given the abuse of the Commerce and General Welfare clauses should be enough to give one cause for pause. The obvious saving caveat is the phrase, “under the Authority of the United States.” It should be fairly obvious that this phrase renders any treaty that involves powers not enumerated in the Constitution void. In other words, the government of the United States does not have the authority to agree to terms with any other nation, the enforcement of which would require powers that exceed its Constitutionally enumerated powers. So in theory at least, a citizen whose rights have been violated by an unconstitutional treaty should be able to sue and have the treaty thrown out.

It’s never happened. That’s a red flag. Perhaps we’ve never had such a treaty?

I’m going to rely in detail upon but one example in order to illustrate what an outrage this process has become: The Convention on Nature Protection and Wild Life Preservation in the Western Hemisphere. This treaty is so vague and open-ended that it must be read to be believed; its virtually unlimited scope is clearly beyond the powers granted to the Federal Government under the Constitution.

From the Preamble to the treaty:

"The Governments of the American Republics, wishing to protect and preserve in their natural habitat representatives of all species and genera of their native flora and fauna, including migratory birds, in sufficient numbers and over areas extensive enough to assure them from becoming extinct through any agency within man's control;"

“Any agency within man’s control,” is certainly a commitment that exceeds the Constitutional authority of the Federal government, but it gets worse. After going on at considerable length about wilderness areas and national parks, they come back with this language in Article V Section 1:

"The Contracting Governments agree to adopt, or to propose such adoption to their respective appropriate law-making bodies, suitable laws and regulations for the protection and preservation of flora and fauna within their national boundaries but not included in the national parks, national reserves, nature monuments, or strict wilderness reserves referred to in Article II hereof."

In other words, the treaty applies to every inch of lands and waters within the United States. It commits every dime of the American economy to preserve ALL species. Ratification of a treaty with this scope is a betrayal of American citizens and their land. It commits them to achieve the unachievable: demanding a complete halt in the process of natural selection. That was in 1941.

So, how did this little beastie get ratified? This is the part that should scare gun owners to no end.

I was writing a book on environmental policy that examined this history. I contacted a friend of mine in DC (FReeper sauropod) and asked him to do a little research for me at the Library of Congress. He pulled the entire file on this treaty. In his summary report to a distracted Senate, Executive Report No. 5, April 3 1941, Secretary of State Cordell Hull quite obviously had deliberately misrepresented its virtually unlimited scope. He didn’t say anything about land outside of parks and nature preserves.

There was no debate. There was no record of a committee vote. There was no record of a quorum. There was no recorded vote.

The problem is in the Constitution, Article II, Section 2, Clause 2:

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur;

“Senators present” not two-thirds of the full Senate. It’s the Constitution’s original Trojan Horse.

Hamilton’s Federalist #75 makes an attempt to paper-over the obvious contention over the means of ratification.

Though this provision has been assailed, on different grounds, with no small degree of vehemence, I scruple not to declare my firm persuasion, that it is one of the best digested and most unexceptionable parts of the plan.

“Best digested” by whom? Although it was a LONG time ago when I read Farrand's Records, I do not recall any extended discussion on the adoption of treaties. I researched the twentty-four references with the string "senators present" for this article, and the only discussion I found was about treaty adoption in general, not a significant discussion on the requirement of a supermajority. This was obvious spin on Hamilton's part.

Another source of objection is derived from the small number of persons by whom a treaty may be made. Of those who espouse this objection, a part are of opinion that the House of Representatives ought to have been associated in the business, while another part seem to think that nothing more was necessary than to have substituted two thirds of all the members of the Senate, to two thirds of the members present.

It was a serious issue, and Hamilton knew it. Later in the paper, he makes his real intentions obvious:

The remarks made in a former number, which have been alluded to in another part of this paper, will apply with conclusive force against the admission of the House of Representatives to a share in the formation of treaties. The fluctuating and, taking its future increase into the account, the multitudinous composition of that body, forbid us to expect in it those qualities which are essential to the proper execution of such a trust.

So according to Hamilton, the people’s representatives can’t be trusted to have a say in the commitments of the government at a level which supersedes all laws in the country. Great. Then why are they allowed to write the laws? Well, the means to circumscribe them is obvious.

Accurate and comprehensive knowledge of foreign politics; a steady and systematic adherence to the same views; a nice and uniform sensibility to national character; decision, secrecy (emphasis in the original!!!), and despatch, are incompatible with the genius of a body so variable and so numerous.

Mr. Hamilton wants the people’s representatives to be ignorant of the terms of a treaty drafted in secret and passed before they know it! What’s this “We the People,” stuff anyway!

The very complication of the business, by introducing a necessity of the concurrence of so many different bodies, would of itself afford a solid objection. The greater frequency of the calls upon the House of Representatives, and the greater length of time which it would often be necessary to keep them together when convened, to obtain their sanction in the progressive stages of a treaty, would be a source of so great inconvenience and expense as alone ought to condemn the project.

So not only does drafting, negotiating, and ratifying the supreme law of the land have to be completed before the people get wind of it, it has to be convenient! Treaties can take many years to negotiate, sometimes even decades. So to argue for expediency at that point is a bit silly.

Now, for the worst part.

The only objection which remains to be canvassed, is that which would substitute the proportion of two thirds of all the members composing the senatorial body, to that of two thirds of the members present. It has been shown, under the second head of our inquiries, that all provisions which require more than the majority of any body to its resolutions, have a direct tendency to embarrass the operations of the government, and an indirect one to subject the sense of the majority to that of the minority.

The whole point of requiring a supermajority of the Several States (at least that’s how it was before the 17th Amendment) to ratify changes to the supreme law of the land almost equivalent to the Constitution itself is a decision of that magnitude should have the approval of the whole people minus a tiny fraction of extremists, who should at least have the time to make their case.

If two thirds of the whole number of members had been required, it would, in many cases, from the non-attendance of a part, amount in practice to a necessity of unanimity. And the history of every political establishment in which this principle has prevailed, is a history of impotence, perplexity, and disorder.

And now he gets to the closer.

To require a fixed proportion of the whole body would not, in all probability, contribute to the advantages of a numerous agency, better then merely to require a proportion of the attending members. The former, by making a determinate number at all times requisite to a resolution, diminishes the motives to punctual attendance.

“Punctual attendance”? The lack of a quorum call for the ratification of the Convention on Nature Protection readily shows what a joke that can be. Senators can easily have motive not to be in attendance so as not to be held accountable for taking a stand. So, there you have the best case Hamilton could make and he belabored it ad nauseum. His point was effectively, ‘If we sneak one of these through in secret, with just a select group, and in a big hurry, it’s your fault.’

In the last days of the 106th Congress, the U.S. Senate ratified a package of 34 treaties almost without notice. They were ratified as a package. There was no debate. There was no recorded vote. Two of them have implications nearly as broad as the Convention on Nature Protection: the International Plant Protection Convention and the Convention on Desertification. Property rights groups, long used to this kind of perfidy were caught totally by surprise. When the deed was done and Jesse Helms was confronted, he looked at the activists and said that we had dropped our guard.

It was our fault.

Gun owners take note. Only last October, the UN submitted its DRAFT RESOLUTION ON INTERNATIONAL ARMS TRADE TREATY. We’re almost there: What the DC Circuit giveth, a Democrat President and a few goons in the Senate could taketh away with complicit “Republicans” hiding their heads in the sand by simply failing to show up.

This is a situation that may soon call for vigilance at a level at to which gun rights groups are unused, particularly if a Democrat is elected President. We now have a Democrat Senate capable of anything, no matter how outrageous, and Republican “moderates” easy to cow, particularly if the payoff is to NOT be in attendance. We no longer have a Jesse Helms to gum up the works and buy time. Like sentries on the battle line, this job cannot be trusted to any one man or group at a time. Like any battle against an opposing army, this battle has its enemy generals who should be watched and observed for every move. Like any battle with unknown foe, it will require a means of collecting intelligence. If I could put a wire on Chuck Schumer I would do it.

This little article was meant to alarm you, because alarm is in order. The DC Circuit ruling, while a cause for celebration doesn’t have us there yet. If we do win in the Supreme Court, don’t think for a second that the gun-grabbing thugs of the left will let the situation get away from them without a fight. The threat we face is unambiguous. The motives are obvious. The enemy is committed. If the Second Amendment is hosed by treaty, we won't get the chance to let it happen again.


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To: Ancesthntr

And require premium compensation, like say 125% of the highest reasonable appraisal, as compensation for people having to leave a place they might not have chosen to leave, and a disincentive for governments to use condemnation unless the land is direly needed.


41 posted on 05/07/2007 6:07:22 PM PDT by Still Thinking (Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?)
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To: calcowgirl; NormsRevenge; Czar
You guys have seen most of the top half of the article, but the latter half is new research.
42 posted on 05/07/2007 6:41:37 PM PDT by Carry_Okie (Duncan Hunter for President)
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To: Carry_Okie

Maybe someone can correct me if I’m wrong, but I seem to remember a case back in the 1950’s where the supreme court ruled that a signed and ratified treaty can NOT supercede the constitution and is null and void if it attempts to.


43 posted on 05/07/2007 6:56:40 PM PDT by apillar
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To: Carry_Okie

I’m no lawyer, but, I think that Article VI is clearly stating a hierarchy of laws and authority. The Constitution trumps Federal laws, which trump treaties, which trump State constitutions and laws. I think that proof of treaties’ inferiority to Federal law can be shown by the fact that no Indian tribe, AFAIK, has ever been able to recover damages when Congress abrogates a treaty. (They’ve had to make any recoveries the good, ol’ fashioned way: By bribing Congress!) If your theory were true, the Senate and the President could conspire to amend the Constitution by entering into convenient treaties with any banana republic wanting a little cash.


44 posted on 05/07/2007 7:07:36 PM PDT by Redcloak (The 2nd Amendment isn't about sporting goods.)
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To: Carry_Okie
This little article was meant to alarm you...

And you accomplished that--very well.

Alarmed and sickened at the same time.

45 posted on 05/07/2007 7:13:25 PM PDT by calcowgirl ("Liberalism is just Communism sold by the drink." P. J. O'Rourke)
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To: Redcloak
The Constitution trumps Federal laws, which trump treaties,

No treaty has ever been trumped by the Constitution in the Supreme Court. If the example provided in the Convention on Nature Protection isn't enough, I don't know what is.

46 posted on 05/07/2007 8:23:38 PM PDT by Carry_Okie (Duncan Hunter for President)
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To: apillar
Maybe someone can correct me if I’m wrong, but I seem to remember a case back in the 1950’s where the supreme court ruled that a signed and ratified treaty can NOT supercede the constitution and is null and void if it attempts to.

In seven years discussing this on FR, I've never seen anyone cite such a case, and believe me, there has been occasion.

47 posted on 05/07/2007 8:24:41 PM PDT by Carry_Okie (Duncan Hunter for President)
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To: Carry_Okie

Thanks!!!

Wake up America!


48 posted on 05/08/2007 8:03:13 AM PDT by AuntB (" It takes more than walking across the border to be an American." Duncan Hunter)
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To: Still Thinking
And require premium compensation, like say 125% of the highest reasonable appraisal, as compensation for people having to leave a place they might not have chosen to leave, and a disincentive for governments to use condemnation unless the land is direly needed.

Great concept - but how about 150%? Give government a real disincentive to take private property.

49 posted on 05/08/2007 8:41:50 AM PDT by Ancesthntr
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To: Carry_Okie
I suppose if we operate under the supposition (and the idiots in Congress may very well be) that the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights were conferred upon the people by the government; then yes I'd agree, that a treaty could superceed them.

However, those rights enumerated were in fact guarantees.

Otherwise a treaty could invalidate the right to free speech along with all the others.

Of course such matters would not prevent them from trying.

50 posted on 05/08/2007 9:39:15 AM PDT by AFreeBird (Will NOT vote for Rudy. <--- notice the period)
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To: AFreeBird
I suppose if we operate under the supposition (and the idiots in Congress may very well be) that the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights were conferred upon the people by the government; then yes I'd agree, that a treaty could superceed them.

All it takes is the power to enforce whatever they think and the rest of it is moot.

However, those rights enumerated were in fact guarantees.

No, it was a promise to guarantee, which has been grossly violated. Limited powers were enumerated and have been wildly exceeded.

Otherwise a treaty could invalidate the right to free speech along with all the others.

What the hell do you think "hate speech" is for? /s

Of course such matters would not prevent them from trying.

Or succeeding. See North Korea.

51 posted on 05/08/2007 10:43:06 AM PDT by Carry_Okie (Duncan Hunter for President)
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To: Ancesthntr

I’m OK with that. No doubt this would help stop condemnation of private citizens’ property for profit, but as soon as being condemned becomes profitable, city councils will start going around condemning each other and their buddies who want to sell anyway, and see a chance to do so at above market value, at the taxpayers expense. Something would need to be in place to prevent that.


52 posted on 05/08/2007 11:05:25 AM PDT by Still Thinking (Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?)
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To: Carry_Okie

WOW. I honestly never looked at treaties that way. Thank you. Years ago, I never thought I would say this... I miss Jesse Helms.


53 posted on 05/08/2007 11:37:51 AM PDT by PghBaldy (Reporter: Are you surprised? Nancy Pelosi: No. My eyes always look like this.)
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To: Carry_Okie

reid v Covert: “There is nothing new or unique about what we say here. This Court has regularly and uniformly recognized the supremacy of the Constitution over a treaty. [n33] For example, in Geofroy v. Riggs, 133 U.S. 258, 267, it declared:”


54 posted on 05/08/2007 12:02:31 PM PDT by PghBaldy (Reporter: Are you surprised? Nancy Pelosi: No. My eyes always look like this.)
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To: All

I thought the post was correct, but then found this: http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0354_0001_ZO.html It is Reid v Covert In it, SCOTUS comes right out and says no treaty can supercede the Constitution. Case closed.


55 posted on 05/08/2007 12:05:07 PM PDT by PghBaldy (Reporter: Are you surprised? Nancy Pelosi: No. My eyes always look like this.)
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To: PghBaldy
Find me a treaty that has been rescinded by the Court for unconstitutional scope.
56 posted on 05/08/2007 12:23:55 PM PDT by Carry_Okie (Duncan Hunter for President)
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To: Carry_Okie

OK. You have a point. Never heard of one. I shouldn’t have said case closed, cause with the way judges are, even the words of the Constitution mean nothing. For that matter, same with Congress and this President, and all Presidents going back decades.


57 posted on 05/08/2007 2:16:53 PM PDT by PghBaldy (Reporter: Are you surprised? Nancy Pelosi: No. My eyes always look like this.)
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To: Carry_Okie

This is the closest I could find- it is an implication that it is possible “Constitutional Limitations on the Treaty Power
A question growing out of the discussion above is whether the treaty power is bounded by constitutional limitations. By the supremacy clause, both statutes and treaties “are declared . . . to be the supreme law of the land, and no superior efficacy is given to either over the other.”332 As statutes may be held void because they contravene the Constitution, it should follow that treaties may be held void, the Constitution being superior to both. And indeed the Court has numerous times so stated.333 It does not appear that the Court has ever held a treaty unconstitutional,334 although there are examples in which decision was seemingly based on a reading compelled by constitutional considerations.335”
http://supreme.justia.com/constitution/article-2/19-constitutional-limitations-on-treaty-power.html


58 posted on 05/08/2007 2:31:24 PM PDT by PghBaldy (Reporter: Are you surprised? Nancy Pelosi: No. My eyes always look like this.)
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To: PghBaldy
OK. You have a point. Never heard of one.

Me either. I know that John Jay's Court had forced reconsideration, but the Court never did invalidate the treaty.

I shouldn’t have said case closed, cause with the way judges are, even the words of the Constitution mean nothing. For that matter, same with Congress and this President, and all Presidents going back decades.

Sadly true. If you liked the article, you might enjoy this one on Kelo.

59 posted on 05/08/2007 2:32:56 PM PDT by Carry_Okie (Duncan Hunter for President)
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To: PghBaldy

All that said, I agree with Okie - it is a MAJOR concern now, and in the future. The US has taken a turn in the last few decades which is not in keeping with the Constitution on many fronts, and now we even have SCOTUS Justices who look to foreign law as a valid precedent, just to fit their square pegged rulings into tiny little round holes. It is very concerning. The most concerning thing however is how the media and the ACLU see it- they now run the show. I assume they will take the side of a treaty to the detriment of the US, and therefore lead SCOTUS.


60 posted on 05/08/2007 2:36:18 PM PDT by PghBaldy (Reporter: Are you surprised? Nancy Pelosi: No. My eyes always look like this.)
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