May 15 2009
Christina Hoff Sommers
Our nation came about from a rebellion against colonial rule.
Now, 233 years after that independence was declared, the Obama Administration is poised to accelerate a trend to once again place Americans under the thumb of foreign authority.
President Obama has nominated Yale professor Harold Koh - a self-described "transnationalist" - to be his top legal adviser at the State Department.
According to Koh in a 2006 Penn State Law Review article, "Transnationalists believe that U.S. courts can and should use their interpretive powers to promote the development of a global legal system." Koh can therefore be expected to favor some international laws over our own, all to the detriment of American sovereignty.
International treaties, old and new, will likely provide the most convenient means of introducing such foreign intervention. The Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST), Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the International Criminal Court (ICC) are unratified treaties likely to receive renewed attention from the Obama Administration.
It's expected that the White House will push for Senate ratification of these disregarded treaties, bringing the United States under their mandates.
LOST, in defining rules for the use of the world's oceans, would thwart U.S. military power. Consider the growing piracy threat. LOST would prevent U.S. forces from apprehending suspect ships - pirate or otherwise - once they cross into "the territorial sea of its own State or of a third State." Instead of increasing safety and justice, criminals are protected while our ability to protect our national interests is undermined.
Instead of simply promoting equal gender rights, Dr. Christine Hoff Sommers of the Independent Women's Forum notes that CEDAW "mandates government intrusion." She adds that the treaty "requires federal coercion of matters that have constitutionally and historically been left under state control, including family law and education." CEDAW also strongly advocates for abortion and promotes the decriminalization of prostitution.
The ICC - signed with reservations by President Bill Clinton and rescinded by President George W. Bush - could assert foreign jurisdiction over U.S. servicemen and civilians, exposing them to a court former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said is "unaccountable to the American people, and that has no obligation to respect the Constitutional rights of our citizens." It would also likely deny Americans rights the Obama Administration wants to give alleged terrorists held in Guantanamo Bay.
Nonetheless, Koh advocates heeding foreign laws and judicial rulings that modify rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. In a 2003 speech at Berkeley, Koh said, "We need these institutions, even if they cut our own sovereignty a little bit."
Koh would not be the only person in the government promoting transnationalism, nor would he be the highest-ranking one. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy has advocated using foreign law as a guide, and fellow Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg also favors reaching across the pond for legal guidance.
At Ohio State University this past April, Ginsburg asked, "Why shouldn't we look to the wisdom of a judge from abroad?"
The answer: Foreign judiciaries played no role in crafting our Constitution, nor have they taken an oath and sworn to uphold our Constitution, nor have they sent men and women to die in defense of our Constitution, nor are they appointed or confirmed by anyone accountable to the American people.
The concept of surrendering our liberties and rights to international treaties and foreign judges is a direct assault on the American people. Our government has a primary responsibility to protect the American people, not the interest of some autonomous world authority.
In pushing a transnationalist agenda, the likes of Koh, Kennedy and Ginsburg are promoting a liberal utopia by selecting foreign laws they prefer and it diminishing our Constitution in the process.
In taking the oath of office, President Obama swore to uphold the Constitution. It's time to live up to that promise.
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Jeffery Temple is a research associate for the Project 21 black leadership network. Comments may be sent to Project21@nationalcenter.org.
Published by The National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints permitted provided source is credited. New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21 or the National Center for Public Policy Research.