An UNconventional Approach to Abortion, Parents' Rights
Judging by the ObamaCare mess, Congress has enough to worry about without adding U.S. sovereignty to the mix. But in the Senate, where inefficiency is an art form, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is choosing to waste more of the chamber's time on an international treaty that could be one of the greatest threats to parents' rights that no one knows about.
Like most U.N. treaties, this one sounds harmless enough. But behind its innocuous name, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), is dangerous language that cedes parental authority, expands abortion "rights," and chips away at U.S. sovereignty. Democrats say the U.S. should ratify the treaty to encourage other countries to "catch up" to our standards of treating everyone fairly, regardless of their handicaps. But America can be an example to the rest of the world without signing away our rights. After two decades of living under the strongest piece of disabilities legislation in the world, we don't have anything to prove. Nothing the United Nations ratifies -- including CRPD -- could compare with the Americans with Disabilities Act in providing protection for people with special needs. So why bother?
Because, as Senator Harry Reid well knows, U.N. measures like this one help get his party's radical policies through America's backdoor. Under CRPD, the U.S. would be forced to recognize so-called rights that even our Constitution does not. What's more, those "rights" would be subject to U.S. courts interpretation -- or worse, unelected bureaucrats'. And, of course, it wouldn't be a U.N. proposal if it didn't include a loophole to greater abortion access.
As pro-lifers point out, this is the first-ever U.N. treaty to include the words "reproductive rights" -- a phrase that hasn't slipped past Senate conservatives like Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). During yesterday's Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Sen. Rubio put Secretary of State John Kerry on the spot and demanded to know if the treaty would be used to promote abortion as an international right. Kerry insisted it would not. To the packed room, Kerry promised, "Nothing in Article 25, or anywhere else in this treaty, creates a right to abortion."
Unfortunately, that doesn't change the facts -- which is that once a treaty is ratified, it is (as our Constitution explains), "the supreme law of the land." Any U.S. judge could use CRPD as grounds to expand abortion in America (and now that Democrats have lowered the standards for confirming those judges, we're likely to have plenty who will try!) Not only does the treaty bind America to the U.N.'s views on abortion, but it also takes a big bite out of parental rights.
As former Senator Rick Santorum, the father of a special needs daughter, explained, "CRPD, if ratified, would effectively put the U.S. under international law when it comes to parenting special needs children. One provision in the treaty would give the government, acting under U.N. instructions, the ability to determine for all children with disabilities what is best for them. I don't know about you, but I believe that in America, that is the parents' job, certainly not the government's."
Home-schooling families would be the obvious targets. In the United Kingdom, one mother already lost the right to continue teaching her 18-year-old son at home, despite his cerebral palsy. The local council determined that it wasn't "in his best interests." Imagine the leverage this treaty would give to liberals looking for ways to usurp the authority of moms and dads. Meanwhile, the dangers to life, parental rights, and U.S. sovereignty are just some of the concerns conservatives have over CRPD. This is a treaty with dozens of Articles, and anyone who suggests -- as John Kerry did -- that it doesn't require "one change to U.S. law" must be waiting to pass it to find out what's in it!
Anyone who's still undecided on the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities needs only to look at the first two letters of the legislation for a reason to oppose it: U.N. Other countries may be willing to sign over their sovereignty, but the United States should know better. To pass, the treaty needs 66 votes. Make sure your senators aren't two of them. Contact your leaders and urge them to vote no on CRPD!
Millett Short-Circuits D.C. Circuit
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took the "nuclear option" yesterday when he used a series of procedural motions to change the Senate's longstanding filibuster rules, effectively muting the legislative minority's right to extended debate on lifetime appointments by lowering "cloture" from a 60 vote threshold to 51 votes. The move surprised many, but for those of us who have been engaged in the fight surrounding the President's nominations to the District of Columbia Circuit Court, it felt like only a matter of time before the escalation went nuclear.
The D.C. Circuit has long been seen as one of the most powerful courts in America, second only to the Supreme Court. Because of its location and jurisdiction, many of the administration's rules and regulations (like the HHS mandate) have to pass through the D.C. Circuit and, with a divided Congress, it's been no secret that the President's success relies heavily on this court's willingness to rubber stamp his administrative actions.
As it stands right now, the D.C. Circuit is evenly divided between Democrat and Republican appointed judges -- but that's about to change. Using the nuclear option, the Senate moved forward with reconsidering Patricia Millett, the first of three previously blocked nominees the President will be employing to pack the court in his favor. Millett has shown an activist tendency in how she views the court, believing it's more important it look a certain way than judge a certain way.
When President Bush nominated Samuel Alito to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Millett bemoaned that O'Connor wasn't being replaced by another woman, as if gender impacts who's most qualified to apply the Constitution to the facts in a case or that our highest court should be seen as a representative body. She sees the redefinition of marriage turning on her own definition of fairness and not the law.
And most telling of her character, when asked in a confirmation hearing which Supreme Court justice's judicial philosophy is most analogous to hers? She responded, "I cannot claim familiarity with any particular judicial philosophies the justices might possess. Nor do I have a judicial philosophy myself . . ." This is astounding for someone whose resume includes 32 oral arguments before the Supreme Court and calls into question her honesty (if not intelligence) and her willingness to be held accountable to the people she is about to serve. Not two questions you want to leave open on a lifetime appointment to the D.C. Circuit.
** On the 50th anniversary of one of the darkest days in U.S. history, FRC's Rob Schwarzwalder looks back on the significance of today in "The Kennedy Assassination and American Patriotism."
*** On Friday's edition of "Washington Watch with Tony Perkins," FRC Senior Fellow, Policy Studies Peter Sprigg will be guest hosting on my behalf. FRC's Executive Vice President and Delta Force Founding member Lt. General (Ret.) Jerry Boykin will be on to talk about the recent news in Kentucky that America may have unknowingly let several terrorists in the country. Radiance Foundation Founder, Ryan Bomberger will also drop by to talk to Peter about his adoption campaign and National Adoption Month. Also, FRC's Senior Fellow, Policy Studies Bob Morrison will be on to talk about the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.