The Greatest Homeland Security Document: The US Constitution

As we celebrate Constitution Week during the month of September, I have always been puzzled as to why some Americans give lip service to this great document of freedom and then turn right around and, as has lately happened, seek after the wisdom of foreigners and their laws as examples of how our laws and culture should be improved.

Article VI, Clause 2 of the Constitution reads as follows:

"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;."

This provision gave every American the right to the protection of the Constitution, the laws, and the treaties entered into by the United States . This is known as the "supremacy clause." It should be a great comfort to all Americans that no matter what the proposal is for any new state or federal law, no matter what the proposal is for any new treaty with foreign nations or no matter what suggestions come as new ideas from outside the United States , our citizens can count on the protection of the Constitution. It is a shield from all new or strange ideas, no matter where they originate. What a great protection for our citizens while we attempt to improve and perpetuate our free society within our various states.

Is any Federal Law or treaty the Supreme law of the land?

Notice that the laws and treaties of the United States must "be made in pursuance" and "under the authority of the United States ." This means that all laws and treaties must first be constitutional in order for them to be valid and the supreme law of the land. In other words, no federal law or treaty can be in violation of the Constitution. Some have claimed that when a law or treaty is contrary to the Constitution, that it is amending it. This is clearly contrary to the intent and words of the Founders.

There Must Be One Supreme Standard

During the constitution's ratification debates, Thomas Johnston, governor of North Carolina explained:

"The Constitution must be the supreme law of the land; otherwise, it would be in the power of any one state to counteract the other states and withdraw itself from the union. The laws made in pursuance thereof by Congress ought to be the supreme law of the land; otherwise, any one state might repeal the laws of the Union at large. Without this claim, the whole Constitution would be a piece of blank paper. Every treaty should be the supreme law of the land; without this, any one state might involve the whole Union in war.... I do not know a word in the English language so good as the word pursuance, to express the idea meant and intended by the Constitution.... When Congress makes a law in virtue of their constitutional authority, it will be an actual law.... Every law consistent with the Constitution will have been made in pursuance of the powers granted by it. Every usurpation or law repugnant to it cannot have been made in pursuance of its powers. The latter will be nugatory and void.... Are laws as immutable as constitutions? Can any thing be more absurd than assimilating the one to the other? The idea is not warranted by the constitution, nor consistent with reason."

The Supremacy Clause Solidifies Sovereignty for the United States and its citizens

The Supremacy Clause of the Constitution puts the whole world on notice that the United States is a sovereign nation and that its laws are supreme to any other foreign law or nation. It sets the United States apart and above all others in legal authority. No other nation can claim jurisdiction in the United States .

Professor Jeremy Rabkin of Cornell University explains the importance of the United States being sovereign. He said:

"Sovereignty is the legal expression of national independence. Sovereignty is to a nation what liberty is to an individual.. For five related reasons, recognition of sovereignty seems to me an essential element of a decent world.

1. "Sovereignty is the Prerequisite of Peace

"Sovereignty became a theme in legal and philosophic writings only in the seventeenth century-that is, at the outset of the modern era, after nearly a century of devastating religious conflict in Europe . It was especially attractive as a formula for achieving peace. Catholic countries could follow one policy at home. Protestant countries-in their several versions-could follow another. And sovereignty was the boundary: each independent state determines its domestic policy for itself and none has the right to impose its domestic views on another.

2. "Sovereignty is a Prerequisite for Definite Law

"Sovereignty means a final authority on internal matters. A government might be sovereign and lawless, as is true in many dictatorships. But it is not possible to have definite law without sovereignty, that is, a set of norms that define who has the last word.

3. "Sovereignty is a Prerequisite for Reliable Rights

"Rights have most value when they are recognized by law-by real law which can be successfully invoked in courts. Soft law secures only soft rights. International conventions, purporting to guarantee basic rights, have been signed by some of the most repressive regimes in the world- and then readily disregarded. But in the meantime, soft law can undermine respect for real rights and real law. In the first place, international law becomes an excuse for governments to get around the limits in their own constitutions.

4. " Sovereignty is the Prerequisite for Meaningful Responsibility

"At the heart of sovereignty is the notion that power and responsibility must be linked. Definite law implies a definite lawmaker. When the law is bad or proves to have unforeseen consequences, it is important to know whom to blame-or whom to address when seeking reform. Again, the idea of international governance points in exactly the opposite direction. Standards are set by distant authorities who may know little about the countries where they will be applied. And they don't really need to know because they are not responsible for the consequences.

5. " Sovereignty is the Last Safeguard for the Highest Authority

"No serious person would say that everything which a sovereign state does is right. Sovereign states have sometimes done terrible wrongs to their own people. But because any one state may be wrong, it does not follow that some consensus or coordinated policy of all states must be right. Historically, claims for national sovereignty were advanced by countries in Europe, rebelling against some higher, purportedly universal authority-whether the Pope in Rome or the Emperor in Germany , claiming to speak with divine authority. Those who rejected these universal authorities did not reject God's authority. They rejected the notion that God spoke only through these particular, anointed authorities. Religious freedom began to gain support in the same century that saw the rise of national sovereignty claims against these universal empires. By the end of the seventeenth century, the same advocates who championed religious freedom were also strong advocates of national sovereignty (not least because countries which had some measure of religious freedom were anxious to protect it from external enemies of religious freedom). In the modern world, few people regard religious freedom as a rejection of God's law or of some higher authority than human will. Most of us understand that religious freedom helps to assure that more people can seek God's will-even if they seek it in different ways. Many people criticize national sovereignty as implying that there is no appeal beyond the sovereign state. But there is always some appeal, because there are always other states offering competing examples and places of refuge for those fleeing the most onerous policies of particular states. The idea of national sovereignty is inseparable from the idea of a multitude of sovereignties; hence there is some possibility for choice, which implies the possibility of mistakes."

An example of an International Treaty posing immediate threat to our Sovereignty

Today, the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is approaching a possible ratification by the United States Senate. This treaty, as harmless as it may appear, is capable of attacking the very core of the child-parent relationship, removing parents from their central role in the growth and development of a child, and replacing them with the long arm of government supervision within the home.

The UNCRC is an international treaty focused on promoting the rights of children and seeking to give children priority in the implementation of governmental measures. The Convention claims to offer a road map that will guide government officials in the improvement of laws and policies, by defining which rights the government should give to children.

Since its introduction in 1989, the Convention has been ratified by every nation in the world except for the United States and Somalia . The CRC was signed by President Clinton in 1995, but early opposition in the Senate persuaded Clinton not to submit the treaty to the Senate for ratification. The fear was that it would take precedent over our own state and national laws and severely infringe on our national sovereignty.

However, on June 24, 2009, the Obama Administration Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, told a group of 120 students that administration officials are actively discussing "when and how it might be possible to join"  (that is, ratify) the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).  She said it is a disgrace that the U.S. would stand with only Somalia against such a widely-accepted treaty.

The Senators who opposed the CRC in 1995 believed that the Convention marked a significant departure from the American concept of the relationship between state and child, and was incompatible with the right of parents to raise their children.

These concerns stem from the CRC's repeated emphasis on two principles that its proponents say should guide all decisions affecting children: consideration of the "best interests of the child" and the child's "evolving capacities." These two principles are the "umbrella principles underlining the exercise of all the rights in the Convention."

The Approaching Storm-with or without Senate ratification

This danger to the American family may not seem imminent-but it is. Even if the UNCRC is not ratified, the dangers it contains could soon become reality for millions of parents.

Under the traditional principles of international law, a treaty may only obligate a nation which has ratified its provisions. But today a growing coalition of international jurists and legal scholars are challenging the necessity of ratification before implementation, citing a complex legal doctrine known as customary international law.

In contrast to international treaties, where a specific document is drafted, signed, and ratified, customary international law is an unwritten law, "comprised of the customs and usages among nations of the world."

Through customary international law many of the key provisions of the UNCRC could easily be applied to insert the long arm of government intrusion into millions of American families-simply because this treaty is being ratified by governments around the world.

Once again the U.S. Constitution offers Protection from the Storm

If those who have taken oaths to uphold the U.S. Constitution are true to their oaths they would reject this treaty as an intrusion into the Supreme Law of our Land-the Constitution of the United States. Such a position is simple and ends all debate. The only way such a treaty can be constitutionally considered is if there were an amendment to the Constitution to allow the Senate to do so.

The answer is simple, as it usually is when we take the Constitution as our only guide to the Supreme law of the land. It is the greatest homeland security document we have.


Earl Taylor, Jr.