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The United States takes a different view concerning the relationship between international and domestic law than many other nations, particularly in Europe. Unlike nations which view international agreements as always superseding national law, the American view is that international agreements become part of the body of U.S. federal law. As a result, Congress can modify or repeal treaties by subsequent legislative action, even if this amounts to a violation of the treaty under international law. The most recent changes will be enforced by U.S. courts entirely independently of whether the international community still considers the old treaty obligations binding upon the U.S. Additionally, an international agreement that is inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution is void under domestic U.S. law, the same as any other federal law in conflict with the Constitution, and the Supreme Court could rule a treaty provision to be unconstitutional and void under domestic law, although it has never done so. The constitutional constraints are stronger in the case of CEA and executive agreements, which cannot override the laws of state governments.

The U.S. is not a party to the Vienna Convention. However, the State Department has nonetheless taken the position that it is still binding, in that the Convention represents established customary law. The U.S. habitually includes in treaty negotiations the reservation that it will assume no obligations that are in violation of the U.S. Constitution. However, the Vienna Convention provides that states are not excused from their treaty obligations on the grounds that they violate the state's constitution, unless the violation is manifestly obvious at the time of contracting the treaty. So for instance, if the US Supreme Court found that a treaty violated the US constitution, it would no longer be binding on the US under US law; but it would still be binding on the US under international law, unless its unconstitutionality was manifestly obvious to the other states at the time the treaty was contracted. It has also been argued by the foreign governments (especially European) and by international human rights advocates that many of these US reservations are both so vague and broad as to be invalid. They also are invalid as being in violation of the Vienna Convention provisions referenced earlier. (wiki)



A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 02:46:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]

 Yep.  Like I say, outrageuous !

  You tell me: is Uncle Sam a member in good standing of the community of law-abiding nations ?

  LOL!

"In such an environment it is not surprising that the ills of technology should seem curable only through the application of more technology..." John W Aldridge

by proximity1 on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 02:56:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This says nothing about being a member in good standing, or about abiding by law. It does spell out the basic attitude towards the community of nations, and about international law.

You could say that the US is not in good standing is, for instance, it did not pay its membership dues to the UN (oops), or if it had disregarded unfavourable rulings by the World Court (oops), or if it had carried out wars of aggression after seeking and failing to obtain Security Council authorisation (oops)...

The basic attitudes spelled out in the quoted paragraphs are: US law is above international law. Within the conceptual metaphor of "the community of nations", this attitude is asocial [in a libertarian individualistic kind of way], maybe anomic or even sociopathic. This still does not say anything about how "well adjusted" this asocial individual is. I would say that after 9/11 it's clearly become maladjusted.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 31st, 2006 at 08:19:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually the USA is a party to the Vienna Convention itself.
It opted out of the Optional Protocol to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations in 2005.

The protocol requires signatories to let the International Court of Justice (ICJ) make the final decision when their citizens say they have been illegally denied the right to see a home-country diplomat when jailed abroad.

The United States initially backed the measure as a means to protect its citizens abroad. It was also the first country to invoke the protocol before the ICJ, also known as the World Court, successfully suing Iran for the taking of 52 U.S. hostages in Tehran in 1979.

But in recent years, other countries, with the support of U.S. opponents of capital punishment, successfully complained before the World Court that their citizens were sentenced to death by U.S. states without receiving access to diplomats from their home countries.

by Detlef (Detlef1961_at_yahoo_dot_de) on Tue May 30th, 2006 at 03:50:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Could you go into wikipedia and correct the article with a reference?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 31st, 2006 at 03:40:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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