There has been quite a kerfuffle in the past few day in the Home School/Parents’ Rights communities over the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee has scheduled a committee vote for this Thursday, and is hoping for a vote of the full Senate by July 26.  The treaty would seek to apply many of the provisions of the US Americans with Disabilities Act, already in force here at home, to disabled Americans traveling abroad.  A big selling point is that it would be a benefit to disabled veterans if they visited or were assigned to other countries.

The arguments against the treaty are three-fold:

  1. That the benefits to Americans abroad have been exaggerated and impossible to enforce;
  2. That the treaty would eliminate US sovereignty and put our family courts under UN bureaucrats–which the government denies;
  3. That this UN Convention is being rushed through the Senate, without giving adequate time for review and informed advice and consent.

First of all, any treaty we sign becomes part of the supreme law of the land, according to the US Constitution, and is a surrender of a bit of our sovereignty.  However, our legal system does not, in reality, work that way.  Most judges do not base their opinions on a literal reading of the Constitution, and most will not bother to read, let alone be guided by, this treaty.  And let’s not forget:  the treaty is modeled after the ADA, which is already in full practice throughout the US.  While ANY United Nations treaty is a surrender of US rights to a foreign body and as such is despicable to Constitutionalists like me, it will have no impact on parents’ rights or home schooling here in the states.

Secondly, the benefits to disabled Americans abroad HAVE been exaggerated, exactly to the same extent that the danger to parents here at home has been exaggerated.  The UN has no enforcing power to make any nation do anything, short of sending in troops (if they can get volunteers).  The usual penalties are monetary fines on nations in violation–fines which many nations cannot pay, and which, historically at least, the US has refused to pay.

The weakest argument–the one that will make its detractors look the most foolish–is the idea that this treaty is being pushed through so fast that the senators don’t have time to read or consider it.  In reality, the treaty was negotiated in 2006; was signed by President Obama in 2009; and was introduced to the Senate in May of 2012.  Anybody who wanted to think about the issue has had plenty of time.

I, too, am opposed to this treaty because of its surrender of US sovereignty; but I am realistic (cynical?) enough to believe that in the long run it will be ignored like the 9th and 10th Amendments.  Does that mean we should sit back at let it happen?  No.  What should we do?

Nothing can happen with this bill until it clears committee, and we in NY have no senators on the committee–we have no one representing us there, that we could lobby.  However, we need to watch the news and see whether it passes in committee, and then contact our senators to express our opposition to the bill.  Our senators are very liberal and tend to be internationalists, so our letters will not change their minds; but large numbers of contacts from opponents of the treaty will be reported to them so they know we are out there.  In reality, no senator wants to go on record as opposing help to disabled children or wounded veterans, so it will pass the full Senate easily.

Does that sound defeatist and fatalistic?  Yes.  The only remedy for this bill, if it is God’s will to intervene, is PRAYER.

So I will pray, and I will contact my senators about the surrender of US sovereignty–the other arguments I will leave alone.  I will also contact my senatorial candidate, who may choose to use this as a campaign issue.  But other than praying, I’m not going to bring out the big guns for this fight.  There are larger and more significant battles coming up.

[Some may complain that I didn’t provide links or phone numbers (or even names) for our senators or senatorial candidate.  If you do not know who they are and cannot figure out how to contact them, you probably are not informed enough to contact them and address the issue in an appropriate manner.  Do your homework!  Nobody ever said that being a patriot would be easy.]

Update:  the Senate committee today (7/19) postponed any action on the treaty indefinitely.