Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address
“I deem [one of] the essential principles of our government, and consequently [one] which ought to shape its administration…peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none.”
John Quincy Adams, Speech Delivered in Washington DC (July 4th, 1821)
“America has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when the conflict has been for principles to which she clings…She goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.”
Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution states that Congress shall have the power
“To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations.”
In 1803 preeminent Constitutional Scholar St. George Tucker quotes a contemporary congressional resolution pertaining to the treaty making power of the President and Senate which notes their reservations to treaties which go beyond their view of the constitutional scope, and which would appear to require constraint :
“That when a treaty stipulates regulations on any of the subjects submitted by the Constitution to the power of Congress, it must depend for its execution, as to such stipulations, on a law or laws to be passed by Congress; and it is the constitutional right and duty of the House of Representatives, in all such cases, to deliberate on the expediency, or inexpediency, of carrying such treaty into effect, and to determine and act thereon, as in their judgment, may be most conducive to the public good.” (Resolution of the House of Representatives, April 6, 1796, Tucker, View Pg 277)
Tucker proceeds to note the impeccable logic of such a congressional position:
“. . .A contrary construction would render the power of the President and Senate paramount to that of the whole Congress, even upon those subjects upon which every branch of Congress is, by the Constitution, required to deliberate. Let it be supposed, for example, that the President and Senate should stipulate by treaty with any foreign nation, that in case of war between that nation and any other, the United States should immediately declare against that nation: Can it be supposed that such a treaty would be so far the law of the land, as to take from the House of Representatives their constitutional right to deliberate on the expediency or inexpediency of such a declaration of war, and to determine and act thereon, according to their own judgment?” (Tucker, View Pg. 277)
It would seem today that Tucker’s prediction of the Nation being drawn into war without adhering to the Constitutional requirement of a congressional declaration of war was almost prophetic—in view of the numerous modern instances of that mantra being the national justification in so momentous a matter!
More succinctly, Thomas Jefferson makes the point:
“By the general power to make treaties, the Constitution must have intended to comprehend only those objects which are usually regulated by treaty and cannot be otherwise regulated.…It must have meant to except out of these the rights reserved to the states, for surely the President and Senate cannot do by treaty what the whole government is interdicted from doing in any way.” (Thomas Jefferson, Writings of Thomas Jefferson. Manual of Parliamentary Practice. Bergh 2:442. )
Jefferson felt that the Constitution must be strictly held to the words written in the document:
“Our peculiar security is in the possession of a written Constitution. Let us not make it a blank paper by construction.”
“I say the same as to the opinion of those who consider the grant of the treaty-making power as boundless. If it is, then we have no Constitution. If it has bounds, they can be no others than the definitions of the powers which that instrument gives. It specifies and delineates the operations permitted to the federal government, and gives all the powers necessary to carry these into execution. Whatever of these enumerated objects is proper for a law, Congress may make the law; whatever is proper to be executed by way of a treaty, the President and Senate may enter into the treaty; whatever is to be done by a judicial sentence, the judges may pass the sentence.” (Thomas Jefferson, Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Bergh 10:418-419. )
As he debated the treaty making power which was granted to the President and Senate as found in the Constitution, James Madison addressed the logical limits to the treaty making power, and made this statement:
“Does it follow, because this power is given to Congress, that it is absolute and unlimited? I do not conceive that power is given to the President and Senate to dismember the empire, or to alienate any great, essential right. I do not think the whole legislative authority have this power. The exercise of the power must be consistent with the object of the delegation.” (James Madison, Jonathan Elliot, Debates on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, Vol. 3, p.514)
The Founding Fathers of this Nation unquestionably felt that the power to make treaties did not embrace the power to modify the Constitution. In their view, the treaty-making power was a limited grant of power that could not undermine or destroy individual God-given rights, or the structure or framework of the limited, carefully defined government they established.
The Constitution Party steadfastly opposes American participation in any form of world government organization, including any world court under United Nations auspices;
calls upon the President, and Congress, to terminate United States membership in the United Nations, and its subsidiary organizations, and terminate U.S. participation in all so-called U.N. peace keeping operations;
bars the United Nations, and its subsidiaries, from further operation, including raising of funds, on United States territory; and
proposes that the Constitution be obeyed to prohibit the United States government from entering any treaty, or other agreement, which makes any commitment of American military forces or tax money, compromises the sovereignty of the United States, or accomplishes a purpose properly the subject of domestic law.
In this connection we specifically denounce the agreement establishing the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) and any other such trade agreements, either bi-lateral or regional in nature. All treaties must be subordinate to the Constitution, since the Constitution is the only instrument which empowers and limits the federal government.
Since World War II, the United States has increasingly played the undesirable role of an international policeman. Through our involvements abroad our country is being changed from a republic to a world empire in which our freedoms are being sacrificed on an altar of international involvement. The United States is now committed by treaty to defend foreign nations in all parts of the world, and by agreements other than treaties to defend more. Therefore, we call upon the President, and Congress, to immediately commence a systematic withdrawal from these treaties and agreements, each of which holds the potential to plunge America into war in some far-flung corner of the earth. NATO, for instance, serves no defensive purpose for the United States, and this country should withdraw from it.
Congress may not abdicate or transfer to others the Constitutional powers of regulating commerce with foreign nations. We oppose, therefore, the unconstitutional transfer of authority over U.S. trade policy from Congress to agencies, domestic or foreign, which improperly exercise policy-setting functions with respect to U.S. trade policy.
We favor the abolition of the Office of Special Trade Representative, and insist on the withdrawal of the United States from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the World Trade Organization (WTO), and all other agreements wherein agencies other than the Congress of the United States improperly assume responsibility for establishing American trade policies.