Corker’s bill turns the Constitution upside down

August 27, 2015
Matt Kokkonen

Matt Kokkonen

OPINION By MATT KOKKONEN

The Constitution of the United States of America was adopted 13 years after the Declaration of Independence of 1776. It established the fundamental law of our country.

Let us consider Article ll, Section 2 which defines the requirement of the President for Senate approval for treaties he wishes to make: “He shall have Power, by, and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur.”

The Iran Treaty cannot be the law of the land until the Senate has approved it by a 2/3 majority. However, in a most sleazy maneuver, Republican Senator Corker introduced a bill which circumvents this clear and unambiguous constitutional mandate regarding Obama’s Iran treaty. Corker’s bill attempts to highjack the constitutional treaty provision by making it a regular senate bill which is to be voted on by Congress.

Under this bill, if Congress votes it down, the president can simply veto it and then Congress has to override his veto by a 2/3 majority. This is impossible at least in the Senate.

Under the Constitution the President needs a 2/3 majority vote from the Senate to pass the Iran treaty but now Congress needs a 2/3 majority to stop the president from passing the Iran treaty.

Our Constitution just got turned upside down. This is the most underhanded and egregious usurpation of our constitutional protections against a monarch getting us entangled in this Iran treaty. America just got shafted.

Senate Majority Leader Republican McConnell is just as complicit by permitting this atrocious Corker bill undermining our constitution to even be brought up in the Senate. Similarly, Speaker of the House, Republican Boehner got involved and took up the bill in the House of Representatives. Why?

The Iran treaty itself is dangerous and stinks to high heavens with all of its secret deals. Did we not learn anything from Nancy Pelosi when she claimed that we had to pass the Obamacare legislation to find out what is in it?

Obama just got fast track authority with the 1000 pages of Trade Promotion Authority and Trans- Pacific Partnership bills which permitted members of Congress to only view sections of it for limited periods of time in the basement, without taking notes, after giving up their cell phones and agreeing not to disclose anything about it. Adolf Hitler also requested absolute power, got it and used it with horrible results. Did we not learn from these?

Similarly, the Corker bill fails to give the details of his Iran bill. Congress needs to stop playing Americans for fools.

Secretary of State John Kerry has clarified the administration’s unconstitutional perspective on this treaty. He stated that since it is impossible to get a treaty passed, he does not regard the treaty a treaty at all and therefore needs to circumvent the constitutionally required senate vote. He therefore circumvented the constitutionally required 2/3 passing vote by the Senate by engaging senator Corker to introduce the treaty as a regular congressional bill, the Corker bill. But, if it quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, it is a duck. It is impossible to re-define reality and Congress needs to stop playing Americans for fools.

Therefore, regardless of the Corker bill, the US Senate needs to stop, get a spine, and take a vote on Obama’s Iran treaty just as the Constitution requires. If the treaty gets 2/3 approval, it passes. If not, the treaty is dead and gone. The Corker bill is insidious and superfluous.

Wake up, America. Do not let our Constitution be high jacked. Our Senators and Representatives and President are not above our Constitution.

In 1994, Matt Kokkonen won a unanimous US Supreme Court decision in his case for state versus federal jurisdictional rights. His case affirmed the 10th Amendment states’ rights. Kokkonen can be contacted at (805) 541-1880.


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abigchocoholic

But, a rose is a rose. Or when it quacks like a duck, it is a duck.

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Actually, I don’t think you are correct. A treaty is only a treaty if 2/3 of the Senate approves it. That is the very definition of what makes it a treaty. Saying a President’s only avenue of approach in his official capacity is to try for a treaty and if the vote fails, the President can do nothing further on the subject is just false. First, the President never has to try for a treaty in the first place. And what idiot would try for a treaty already knowing it couldn’t pass? Presidents are a little too smart for that.


Secondly, a President can take other action, one of the other actions being an executive agreement. Presidents have always taken other actions short of treaties. There is a long precedence of Presidents taking other action. So there would be no constitutional limitation or historical precedent preventing this President from undertaking the same powers his predecessors have undertaken.


See this statistic: “A 2009 study published by the University of Michigan found that 52.9% of international agreements were executive agreements from 1839 until 1889, but from 1939 until 1989 the ratio had risen to 94.3%.”


So if this President enters into an executive agreement with Iran, he is in the company of approximately 90% of recent international agreements entered into by U.S. presidents. Do you see something unusual or unseemly in this President doing what has been done by Presidents approximately 90% of the time before him? The 90 percentile is pretty strong company, wouldn’t you agree?


And, If I understand it correctly, if the President does enter into an executive agreement with Iran, his powers in that executive agreement will be greatly limited–much more limited than if the President had achieved a treaty. (Makes sense, right?) For example, the President will not be able to unilaterally eliminate existing sanctions on Iran. Eliminating existing sanctions would take Congressional approval. So his executive power here is extremely limited, don’t you agree? For a second example, the President cannot limit the next President’s power to reverse his executive agreement so his authority here only extends out 1 year. Not much is going to happen in the next year on this topic, don’t you agree?


I think once you think about it, you will quickly see that this President’s proposed agreement without the authority to lift economic sanctions and without the authority to bind the country beyond next November isn’t all that powerful or scary or unprecedented. In fact, it’s pretty much the power the people of the United Stated intend to and should trust with their President, don’t you agree?


r0y

This is a hard one. One, because it is only a “treaty” if they call it a treaty – or it is specified in the language of it. I have not read ALL of the language so I do not know if it is a treaty or not – they call it a “long-term Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” (or JCPOA because words confuse politicians too easily). I do know that no one is calling it a “non-binding agreement” – which is usually what “non” treaties are called, so I am suspicious.


Some parts that I did read, read like a child’s wish-list:

Iran and E3/EU+3 will take the following voluntary measures…” Whenever someone says, “you WILL volunteer” – you know it’s a crock of shit.


Also, there is no case law for this – which is probably why the administration is so flamboyantly circumventing the Constitution (yet again). The Executive Branch does need to conduct foreign policy (trust me, I would LOVE to dismantle the State Department) and needs to be able to conduct agreements; that said, is an agreement a treaty? As I said earlier, only if they say it is. It is a slippery slope, and anyone who quickly dismisses this exercise in legalese is likely a fool.


Finally, whenever “comprehensive” is mentioned by a bureaucrat or politician, look out, it’s a LOT more than what you think it is. Or what they’ve sold it to you as.


ToHellinaHandBasket

Good opinion piece Matt. I’m sure you know what you opine, unfortunately for us, the progressive cult in this country today don’t give a hoot about our Constitution. Especially the current potus whom I can only imagine uses it as a mat to wipe his feet with prior to entering the oval office.


r0y

As long as most are comfortable in their bellies, loins, and wallets, no one will care if the water is starting to boil. ☦


abigchocoholic

You’re correct that treaties require a 2/3 ratification by the Senate. As a result, they have a special legal status. This is just an executive agreement.

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What’s the difference? Isn’t the difference that a treaty is binding on the U.S., whereas an executive agreement by Obama for example can be reversed with no consequences?


I’ll do a little research on it.


Matt K

To chocoholics united,

Unfortunately executive actions carry the force of law as well, so they have consequences until they are repealed by the next president if he so desires. Meanwhile, in this case Iran will be getting $150 Billion cash flow with which they will develop missiles and other weapons with which they will carry out their stated desire of death to America, the great satan, and to Israel, its vassal.


It is absolutely naïve to call this Iran bill merely an executive “agreement”. He is binding the United States to another adversarial country. Most alarmingly, we do not even know many of the side agreements that have been made. One such agreement regarding inspections just surfaced. Which of you, readers, thinks it is a good idea for Iran to inspect its own nuclear sites without our oversight and then expects us to accept their report?


That is why our Constitution requires Senate’s 2/3 approval of treaties.


Obama obviously did not want the Senate to know what all he gave away and that is why he could not take the treaty to it for a vote.


We’re not playing checkers with a peaceful Islamist country. We are playing for keeps regarding nuclear weaponry with a country which is the world’s foremost exporter of radical Islamic terrorism in the world.


Jorge Estrada

I appreciate the thought you put into this. Regardless of agreement or disagreement the bottom line is we do need to wake up because of the many unintended consequences we unknowning support. The truth is that we uninformed voters are constantly being sold a bill of bads.


Rambunctious

“Our Constitution just got turned upside down. This is the most underhanded and egregious usurpation of our constitutional protections against a monarch getting us entangled in this Iran treaty. America just got shafted.”


America and our constitution have been in a distant second to the self adulation of our current commander and chief. This Iranian deal is for Obama’s legacy not the security of the United States.


mkaney

I bet you weren’t insisting that the bills putting sanctions on Iran were treaties, were you? The only person who has been played like a fool here is you, as we’ve seen time and time again.


You are a typical Republican / Democrat.. no regard whatsoever for philosophical consistency or integrity.. just make up whatever you want for the sake of expediency. This one is really laughable though. I don’t support Obama, but what you are saying here doesn’t even make sense.. You are either seriously clueless, or seriously manipulative.


Paso_Guy

I think you’re just jealous.


mkaney

LoL I’m pretty sure you’re being sarcastic…?


Matt K

Regrettably, your reference to sanctions is totally off mark. When US places sanctions against a foreign country the US does not ask it for agreement to do so. Do you really think Iran would have entered into a treaty with us in order for us to impose sanctions on Iran? Please do think about what you wrote. Sanctions by the US are one sided, executed by the US. The Iran issue is a treaty between the US and Iran. Treaties need to be ratified by the Senate with a 2/3 majority.


Secondly, how is it that I am the typical Republican/Democrat if I am publicly taking the Republican leadership to task for violating the Constitution? On the other hand, Democrats are lining up in a single file behind Obama on Corker’s Iran deal.


What part of the letter lacks philosophical consistency? Kindly point it out to me, as I must have forgotten all of my college major subject, which in fact was philosophy. I followed that with two years of graduate studies in Europe in philosophy and political science.


What part of my letter lacks integrity?


With what I learned about you by reading your blurb, it does not surprise me that what I was saying did not even make any sense to you.


On one item I must congratulate you. That is your not supporting Obama, the president who rules without consideration of our Constitution.


How are my comments seriously clueless?


Whom am I manipulating by insisting on Obama’s need to follow the Constitution?


Next time, think first, please. Don’t attack the messenger but try to challenge the ideas and concepts being put forth. Incidentally, in classical philosophical terms, your comments are called “argumentum ad hominem”. You might take that to heart if not to your mind.


mkaney

A fair response, and so you deserve one in return.


First, you’re right that sanctions are a one sided action. And in that respect, yes, I made a foolish statement. But removal of those sanctions can also be a one-sided action. Just by putting conditions on their removal or loosening does not make something a treaty. especially when those conditions are non binding and not enforceable. So in a sense, this also was a one-sided action, as prior one-sided actions are simply being undone based upon an “understanding”. When Bush made deals with countries to get them to join his coalition, were those considered treaties?


You are a typical Republican/Democrat because time and time again you come forward with an issue that is classically partisan. It may not reflect the action being taken by Republicans in Congress at the end of the day, but that is because their actions have to reflect SOME sort of rational behavior based on precedence. But it does reflect the talking points of the party. I have never, not once, seen you take a side on an issue that contradicting the conventional party thinking.


As far as philosophical consistency. You’re right, that was an unfair accusation. It was merely based on my accusation that you are a typical Republican/Democrat, as the positions taken by those parties on various issues are constantly philosophically inconsistent. I should not have put that on you based upon this one position and for that I apologize.


I don’t feel like Congress or any of our Presidents in recent history has demonstrated adherence to the Constitution. I just find it rather ironic that Republicans would criticize Obama for that, especially since he followed eight years of a Republican President which constantly violated the Constitution.


I do not support any particular party. I was an enthusiastic Ron Paul supporter, because he did not compromise on his extremely consistent philosophy (like his son has). Despite the fact that I am huge fan of true free-market principles (i.e. anarchocapitalism), I will be supporting Jill Stein of the Green party this go around, because her sincerity and her stance on the military industrial complex and the drug war far outweigh any potential damage she can do in one term with her economic policy.


pandayho

It’s not a treaty.


You’re correct that treaties require a 2/3 ratification by the Senate. As a result, they have a special legal status. This is just an executive agreement. The President has the constitutional authority to conduct foreign policy, as I’m sure you would have argued 10 years ago.


The rest of this article is garbage talking points that don’t change the fact that your central thesis is trash.


This is why you are 0 for 50 in elections.


Matt K

Perhaps I could refer you to my reply comments to mkaney.

In addition, you introduced an interesting twist, namely attempting to create reality by redefining words. It points out interesting characteristic about the liberal mind. They have a God complex. They remember something about the Biblical creation event where God spoke… and the physical world came to be, However, your trying to call a treaty something other than a treaty won’t change it. The problem in this instance is that Obama is in fact trying to make a treaty between the US and Iran, but since he knows the Senate would not approve it, he had Corker carry his jug of water by calling it something other than a treaty. But, a rose is a rose. Or when it quacks like a duck, it is a duck.


Of course the president has the constitutional authority to conduct foreign policy. But that same constitution prohibits him from doing exactly what he is attempting to do with Iran right now. Even you agree that the Senate needs to approve all treaties by 2/3 majority. Period. You cannot escape that just by trying to redefine the action. You’re not God.


Now then, you tell me why the current Iran deal is not a treaty between the US and Iran.


You too are blinded by your ignorance. I was a founding member of a local community services district established under LAFCO and was elected to it. I also served as its treasurer. I have been elected in county wide elections to the Republican Central Committee. I was the Republican nominee in the Congressional general election in 2008, where the Democrat registration favored Republicans by a huge margin and I received over 80,000 votes – which is more than the more recent candidates have received.

At least I have the guts to run and have the guts to vocalize my principles. What positive item – even one- have you introduced to SLO residents other than trying to be smug, sarcastic and negative?


I await your response to this question as well as to the challenge to tell everyone why the Iran deal is not a treaty.


Finally, how about my running for Congress again? What do you think? Maybe you could help me win for the people and the Constitution.


Rich in MB

Excellent article…

What ever your view of the Iran Deal, that isn’t the Constitutional issue.

It’s the unconstitutional way the leaders in Congress rigged the system to gut the advise and consent powers of the US Senate.


Many, even KVEC Dave, are starting to see the monster we created with the imperial president. The constitution gave us separation of powers, but what the founding fatbers couldn’t have imagined was how Congress would give up those powers for political expediency.


What will President Trump do with these new Presidentcy powers? The monster of tyrany is out if the bag my fellow citizens and once again it is brought to you by BOTH political parties, so stop the BS repub vs Dem fight when they both have screwed us. It’s time to wake up and speak the truth…..Revolution at the polls time to kick all of their asses out of office.