to construe such a constitutional amendment. It is now more than eighty years
since the adoption of the Fourteenth
Amendment; and the Supreme Court is
-till trying, in the school-segregation
eases, lo determine what force should be
given to various statements in the congressional debates on thai amendment in
the late 1880's.
The perspective which accompanies
the passage of time is not free of inaccuracy. Remoteness can produce a loss
.if detail. The legislative intent, which
may now seem to us so sharply defined,
can become blurred as the decade- go
by. What assurance' do we have that the
intent will be found to have been one
of restating the law rather than changing
it? Who has the power or authority,
under our form uf government, to make
this intent so clear as to remove emv
eliiul.t on thi- score lor eill time?
WOULD HANDICAP STRUGGLE
Moreover, the evil ..I Buch an amendment weeiilel lie- not only in the possibility
of an unfortunate construction by the
Supreme Court, but in the mere exist-
I'liec of ei constitutional question affecting, and therefore clogging, the treat)
\\. all know theit the uncertainties of
constitutional law <eiu be a source of
verj great difficulty to the American
businessman. But to adopt a constitutional amendment which might becloud
the law on the tnaly power would be to
place an unnecessary handicap upon the
representatives of our country in their
dealings with other nations.
We cannot afford le. ; i——i r 11 n - any
further handicap in these times when
the outcome of the struggle against
communism depends so largely upon
how successful we are in strengthening
the alliance of all freedom-loving nations
and peoples. In these perilous and confusing years, if our country is to act on
the world scene with any chance of success, it is a primary requisite that the
authority of our representatives should
be absolutely clear cut.
Finally, in reference to the Knowland
proposal and also to Section 1 of the
Bricker resolution, it is unthinkable to
me that our Constitution, particularly
the fundamental guaranties in the Mill
of Rights, could be overriden by a treat).
So far as I know, no treaty has evei
been made which purported t.» have llii-
effect. I find it impossible to assume thai
any such treaty would be agreed le. in
the future by a President of the I nil. .1
States and two-thirds of the Senate, both
elected by and responsible to the .Ann ii
can people. Even granting this unlikeliesl
of all contingencies. I cannot imagine
lhat the Supreme Court, the guardian e.l
our most sacred traditions, would permit the Constitution to be overriden in
I In top ol all this, how can wc conceive that the Congress would be so
supine eiml helpless that it would not
immediately pass a law restoring the
supremacy of the Bill of Rights over
any such hypothetical treaty? With a
Congress as helpless as lhal. our situation would be hopeless anyway; and I
am opposed to redesigning our Constitution which has stood for 165 years, in
order to provide for hopeless situations,
MIGHT BRING MORTAL HARM
In reference both to Section 2 of the
Bricker resolution and also to Section 2
uf the George proposal, there is no need
for a constitutional amendment limiting
the President - power to make executive
In mv opinion, whatever advantage
might be gained through such an amendment we.ulil be outweighed In tin-serious
ri-k eef mortal harm to our country if
tin- executive branch should be saddled
with a procedure which might cause
eleleiy anil confusion in an emergency
crying for swift anil decisive action. I.
therefore, oppose eit ihis time ;i constitutional provision along the lines of any
now pending before us to require congressional action before em executive
agreemenl can have effeel eis internal
Under the Constitution as it now
stands there is a wielc area in which
executive agreements are Inferior t.. acts
of Congress. Within this area an execu
live agreemenl will have no force if inconsistent with an ent of Congress, ll
ineiki> in. difference whether the act of
Congress was passed before or afler tbe
executive agreemenl was made.
In a case' decided onlv List year ei
federal courl denied effeel to em executive agreemenl which wet- [nconsistenl
with ,i prior ent of Congress. Within ihis
wielc area, then, where congressional enactments prevail over executive agreements. I regard the existing safeguards
a- generallv atlequeitc. If thi'ie ein' loopholes, ihev should be studied eunl propel
remedial legislation carefully drafted in
whatever form that legislation should
best take. Certainly al this linn' I can see
n.. m.-ii for a constitutional amendmenl
of emv kind. I wish to make il com-
pletely clear thai I eun enjeeinst any con-
-tiliilion.il amendment in einv form and
of anv character al this time. I considei
all -inh amendments to be dangerous,
.mil eee should not even consider them.
I want no misunderstanding with regard
i \ -i.nul ..ii thai subject.
WOULD CRIPPLE PRESIDENT'S AUTHORITY
Outside of this area, tin- George pro-
posal, in mv judgment, would seriously
cripple the- President's authorit) eis Com-
ni.in.lei in-l hii'f of our Armed Forces.
This is a mailer of vital importance in
time of war.
In modern times our wens have been
fought, nol single-handed, but with allies.
In the past four decades we have (ought
three coalition wars. For nearly seven
years out of the last twelve, we have
been engaged in coalition wars. To fore-
stall the calamity of a third world war,
w. eiic now building lhe strongest possible: alliance ageiinsl lln- threat of Communist aggression.
Executive agreement.- can provide for
a wide variety of routine matters in a
military alliance. They are also a means
of carrying out important decisions
which demand and require swift action.
In my opinion, the constitutional
amendment proposed by lhe distinguished senior senator from Georgia [Mr.
George] would be a tragic handicap in
time of wen. Suppose, for instance, the
enemy made a surprise attack on Alaska
and ii wa- necessary to rush a Canadian
motorized division from eastern Canada
lo support our troops in Alaska.
I inlii presenl law, em executive agreemenl could instantly open lhe way for
this Canadian division to use- our superior highway network. This, however,
would affect many provisions <>l internal
law, and under the George Amendment
an ail of Congress would be required
before agreemenl could l.e made 'lie.
I.el me suggest a further variation of
this problem. Suppose our intelligence
agencies should intercept ;i message indicating a possible but not certain attack
upon Alaska, like the eillaek on Pearl
Harbor, withoul a declaration of war.
Our countermeasures in such a crisis
would require not only speed bul complete secrecy. How would either speed
"i .a ..a v I..' pe.-sil.le' if the- Constitution
barred tin1 wen until the' Congress could
These contingencies, eiml many more
lhal mighl In- cited, are by no means
improbable. In fact, they em' relatively
simple situations. We cannol foretell
what kind of complicated emergenc)
might arise in a supersonic atomic blitzkrieg.
This is a mo.-i serious consideration.
I believe it would be reckless of us to
approve the' George proposal without
thorough consideration of all iln- implications involved. I bene mentioned just
those few implications which have occurred to me. I say lhal an amendmenl
io our Constitution, such as lhe George
proposal or am of the' others pending
before us. musl he carefully examined
lev eill tlie appropriate committees, i"
eluding lhe Committee on Foreign I'1'
I eun deeply troubled 1»\ the prospeel
of ;i constitutional amendmenl evolved
from a hasty political compromise.
Wilhoul detracting in anv way from the
sincerity eiml diligence eunl patriotic Intentions wilh which a number eel senators have worked in recenl weeks to
i bring aboul a compromise of the Issues
raised bj Senate Joint Resolution 1-
FACTS FORUM NEWS, September, 1955