Sunday, 2 January 2005

Jefferson on treaties

I’ve raised the issue of the power of treaties in the past, and it appears that at least one of our founders thought they were bound by the Constitution:

“I say… to the opinion of those who consider the grant of the treaty-making power as boundless: If it is, then we have no Constitution. If it has bounds, they can be no others than the definitions of the powers which that instrument gives.”—Thomas Jefferson to Wilson Nicholas, 1803. ME 10:419
Others agreed as well. See this post by Donald Sensing from back at the start of the Iraq War.


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Too bad Jefferson lost that debate. (scroll down to Article II, Section 2 for the definitions of the powers which that instrument gives.


I’m not sure how Jefferson lost that debate when the constitution was ratified in 1789 and his statement is dated 1803. The statement is about treaties and their ability to change the constitution.

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