Rights Gone Wrong in the Senate
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) has a dubious name. While it may sound like it would help Americans and people around the world with disabilities, the treaty could dangerously undermine United States laws protecting persons with disabilities, specifically the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
This past week, the UNCRPD -- which conservatives have battled against for years -- passed out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by a vote of 12-6. A champion of this treaty is former U.S. Senator Bob Dole, who is urging the Senate to ratify and vote on this treaty this year. A major problem of the treaty is that it fails to provide a definition for the word "disability", which could greatly expand the reach and power of unelected international committee members under the UNCRPD. The treaty only says that disability is "an evolving concept."
Moreover, U.S. law, including the ADA, protects the rights of parents to raise and educate their children regardless of whether their children have disabilities. Parental rights are so important, and decisions about children with disabilities should be left to parents, not unelected U.N. bureaucrats.
The UNCRPD isn't the only matter of concern with the Senate before it breaks for August recess. The Senate is set to vote on Monday on another controversial Obama-appointed judicial nominee, Pamela Harris, to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. We need to continue to remain strong in our opposition as we hear that the Senate may vote to ratify this treaty sometime this year.
Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has been stacking the Senate calendar with nominee votes and little time is given, if any at all, to actually debate their confirmation and properly vet them to serve on the highest courts in our land. Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Grassley (R-Iowa) asked on the floor:
"Why is this Fourth Circuit nomination being fast-tracked? Why fast-track one of the most liberal nominees we have considered to date? If history is any guide, the answer is simple.
It's all about saving Obamacare.
The other side wants to stack the Fourth Circuit just like they did the D.C. Circuit. Because the Fourth Circuit hears a disproportionate number significant cases involving federal law and regulations, just like the D.C. Circuit."
Professor Harris has described the Constitution as "a profoundly progressive document." In 2008 Professor Harris was speaking on a panel and said that she rejected the argument of originalism and claimed that judges should interpret the Constitution from the viewpoint of social movements.
Victory for Meriam Is Just the Beginning
Yesterday was a day of celebration around the world as news spread that Meriam Ibrahim and her family had escaped to freedom. Jubilant statements poured in from foreign government leaders, Members of Congress, and also the Pope, who met with Meriam upon her arrival in Italy. Fox News host Megyn Kelly expressed relief and told me last night, "It's great to bring good news...once in a while." Considering the non-stop flood of attacks on faith, family, and freedom the outcome in Meriam's case is one we are truly thankful for. There is no question that God answered the prayers of many people who were praying for Meriam and her family. I am also encouraged that this may open a door for an on-going conversation with Sudanese officials to discuss true religious freedom in their country.
The starting place, of course, is with the repeal of the apostasy law that nearly led to the hanging of Meriam because of her faith in Jesus Christ. This law violates Sudan's own interim Constitution which states that the government "shall respect the religious rights to...worship or assemble in connection with any religion or belief and to establish and maintain places for these purposes." There are some in the Sudanese government that do want reform. As I said this week before a House subcommittee, our government needs to make encouraging these religious freedom reforms a priority in our foreign policy. Religious freedom has been suffering around the world and the suffering has worsened because of the indifference of the Obama administration. The reality is that there are thousands of Meriams looking toward America, hoping they are not forgotten and that someone will speak out on their behalf.
Last night, I appeared on Fox News "Kelly File with Megyn Kelly" where I thanked Megyn for providing this issue the profile that it needed. If you missed the interview, please watch the video below and learn more about the difference you made in securing Meriam and her family their freedom.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.