International Law and Chemical Weapons: Conservative Arguments of Substance

Spread the love

By Karen J. Alter, Professor of Political Science and Law, Northwestern University,
With the daunting, expensive task of dismantling and destroying Syrian chemical weapons still in process, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling currently under deliberation may even more deeply jeopardize the tenuous push and pull between the United States and Syria.

The issue arises because of a bizarre and salacious case of a spurned wife, Carol Bond, who used a poorly concocted chemical substance to poison her husband’s pregnant lover.

Conservative members of the Supreme Court appear inclined to use the Bond case to undermine the standing of treaties in the American legal system.

Should the court go in this direction, it could easily render more fragile one of the few tools the U.S. has to pressure Syria.

If Bond had been charged under state law, she would have ended up with a prison sentence of three months to two years. But state officials refused to intervene, leaving it to Federal officials to act. Postal inspectors videotaped Bond spreading the strange orange substance on the lover’s mailbox, and the task of prosecuting Bond fell to federal officials, who invoked a legal provision enacted as part of the U.S. ratification of the Chemical Weapons Treaty.

The quirky facts of Bond’s case make it easy to lose sight of the important issues at stake. Bond’s lawyers are questioning the extent to which the Chemical Weapons Treaty applies in the United States.

This is the very same treaty the United States is invoking to challenge Syria’s use of chemical weapons on civilians. Those who mail anthrax or other poisons will try to draw on an exculpating Bond precedent, but even more worrisome would be foreign governments who find that their constitution limits their ability to investigate or prosecute the use or spread of chemical weapons.

The real concern is not, however, the Chemical Weapons Convention, a treaty that most Americans like. Rather, the Supreme Court is likely to use the Bond case to pronounce limits on Congress’ ability to implement international treaties. The ruling is likely to defend states rights from federal treaty-making encroachment, while limiting the reach of international law in the United States.

Given how hard it is for anyone to have their case heard by the Supreme Court, one really must ask why the Supreme Court so much wants to rule on this case.

The Supreme Court heard the Bond case earlier this month for the second time. The first Bond case was argued in 2011. The Department of Justice sought to distance itself from an argument that Bond could not question the constitutionality of the implementing law, by ‘confessing error.’

Usually if the government refuses to defend the point of law Bond was challenging, the case goes away. But the Supreme Court kept Bond’s argument alive by appointing a lawyer to defend the Government’s abandoned argument. This second time around, the Supreme Court has asked for arguments on the fundamental question of whether Federal Treaty making powers can displace state prerogatives.

Make no mistake, the target in the Bond case is international law in general. To be sure, there are important legal issues worth pondering. One can question whether Bond should be prosecuted under the Federal law in question, and one can ask how we balance Bond’s rights, states rights, and treaty obligations. Indeed it is not unusual for a Supreme Court to find constitutional limits to international law at home. The German Constitutional Court, and other constitutional courts, have found such limits.

The problem is not the question so much as the framing of the issue by conservatives. There really is no choice to make between the US Constitution and international law, and there is not even a choice in this case. The state refused to sanction Bond’s actions, thus one must wonder what state right was violated?

The conservative challenge to international law is deeper and wider than this case suggests, and in the Justice Roberts Court, conservatives have finally found a receptive ear for their challenges. Why Bond?

The salacious facts are a big part of the attraction. Conservatives are looking for visible platforms through which to question and discredit international law and the continued commitment of Presidents — from Ronald Reagan, to George Bush, to President Obama — to work with international law.

The Bond case looks like prosecutorial overkill, which suggests that the global black helicopters are descending on hapless spurned lovers around America. The great irony, however, is that international law is the only tool that exists to address the issues that these very same conservatives care about.

In a world governed by the absolute sovereignty conservatives prize, every country has the right to sell chemical and nuclear weapons to whomever, to close their markets to American products, to seize American property without compensation, to persecute and expel religious and other types of minorities, and to harbor those who plan attacks on America.

If the United States Supreme Court suggests that constitutional barriers render the government unable to prosecute those who disseminate or use chemical weapons, we hand a legal resource to governments that prefer to look the other way on a broad range of issues. Syrian officials can even at a later date argue that someone else resurrected and used chemical weapons and there was nothing the government could do about it.

This is the wrong time to validate these sorts of arguments.

(Source: The Huffington Post)


यसमा तपाइको मत

uncat बाट अन्य

नेपालमा विवाह सम्बन्धि कानून र मान्यता

Spread the loveविवाह मानिस परिवार प्रणालीमा प्रबेश गरे संगै विकाश भएको परिवार प्रणालीको एक महत्वपूर्ण र सुन्दर पक्ष विवाहित जोडीको विचको एक महत्वपूर्ण करार हो । यसको ऐतिहासिकता कानूनको भन्दा पुराना ेछ जसकारण हामी...

भारत र नेपालको सम्वन्ध बल्ल तल्ल बराबरीमा उक्लिएको छ

Spread the loveके हामीले हाम्रो ईतिहास राम्ररी पढेका छौ ? हिजो भारतमा अग्रेजको शासन कालमा जस्ले जे जती सुकै फुर्ति लगाएपनि गभर्नरको कुरै छाडौ चम्पारण वा बेतियाका कुनै लप्टन साब वा क्याप्टन साहेब आउदा...

Spread the love  पहिले चिकित्सकहरु पनि कालो कोट लगाँउथे । चिकित्सकहरु हात राम्ररी धुदैनथे । उनीहरु आफ्ना उपकरण (छुरी, कैची आदी) त कार्वोनिक अम्लमा डुवाँउथे तर अपरेशन गर्दा तिनै काला लामा दुर्गन्धीत ह्वार्लाङे कोट लगाँउथे...

कानूनको अनभिज्ञता Sudarsan Joshi

Spread the love यो बिषय देख्दा सामान्य देखिए पनि कानूनको कार्यान्वयन मा न्याय संग जोडेर हेर्दा अत्यन्त महत्वपुर्ण छ । बिश्वमा नै बिकसित हुदै आएका फौजदारी न्याय प्रणाली एबं बिधिशास्त्रका मान्यता वा सिद्दान्तहरुलाइ अध्ययन गर्दा...

टिकापुर घटना मुद्दाको फैसला पूर्ण पाठ

Spread the loveजिल्ला अदालत कैलालीले टीकापुर घटनामा मुख्य अभियुक्त रेशम चौधरीलाई जन्मकैदको फैसला सुनाएको छ । न्यायाधीश परशुराम भट्टराईको एकल इजलासले चौधरीसहित ११ जनालाई दोषी ठहर गरेको हो । उनीहरुलाई जन्मकैदको फैसला भएको श्रेस्तेदार इन्द्रबहादुर...

बयान परिवर्तन गर्दा उच्च अदालतवाट कैद सजाय

Spread the loveजनकपुरधाम – सर्लाहीको साविक मोतिपुर गाविस–४ का ४५ वर्षीय भूपनारायण महतोले आफैंले दिएको उजुरी विपरीत अदालतमा झूटा बयान दिएको भन्दै उच्च अदालत जनकपुरले कैद र जरिवाना सजाय हुने फैसला गरेको छ । २०७२ भदौ...

गिद्दहरुको सांराज्यकी म लाचार एक निर्मला

Spread the loveपीडा ‘निर्मला’को चस्मा भित्रका ती चहकिला आँखा जहाँ, हजारौं सपनाहरु सल्बलाइ रहेको देखिन्छ । निर्भीक, निश्चल त्यो मुस्कान ताजै छ तस्वीरमा, तर मात्र तस्वीरमा; त्यो तस्वीर भित्रका सजीव आँखा अनि मुहारमा छाएको मन्द मुस्कान, अब मात्र तस्वीरमा सीमित रहनेछ, र तर्साउन...

Spread the loveकाठमाडौं: डा. गोविन्द केसीको अदालतको अवहेलना मुद्धामा कानून व्यवसायीहरुको छाता संगठन नेपाल वार एशोसिएसनले प्रधानन्यायाधीश गोपाल पराजुलीको बचाउ गर्दै करिव २ दिनपछि शुक्रबार विज्ञप्ती जारी गर्दै अनसन मार्फत न्यायालयमाथि दबाव नदिन डा....

अध्यादेस सन्दर्भमा राष्ट्रपति विरुद्ध रिट दर्ता

Spread the loveकाठमाडौँ — सरकारले पठाएको अध्यादेश राष्ट्रपतिले बिनाकारण रोक्नु गैरकानूनी भएको दाबी गर्दै सर्वोच्च अदालतमा रिट निवेदन परेको छ । अधिवक्ता यज्ञमणि न्यौपानेले अविलम्ब अध्यादेश जारी गर्न आदेशको माग गर्दै सर्वोच्चमा निवेदन दिएका हुन् । उनले...

हैन, बरिष्ठ बाड्ने तरीका चै के र छ ?

Spread the loveसर्बोच्च अदालतले २७२ जना कानून ब्यवसायीलाई बरिष्ठ अधिवक्ताको उपाधी दिने गरि गरेको निर्णयमा एक न्यायधिसको फरक मत जाहेर भएको छ । अदालतले भरखरैमात्र २७२ जाना कानू ब्यवसायीलाई बरिष्ठको उपादी प्रदान गर्ने निर्णय...