...Treaties





Edmund Randolph

But I am sanguine in hoping, that in every other, justly obnoxious clause, Virginia, will be seconded by a majority of the states I hope, that she will be seconded...in abridging the power of the Senate to make treaties the supreme laws of the land.

A Letter on the Federal Constitution
Richmond, Virginia
October 10, 1787



No law of Congress, or treaties, shall be effectual to repeal or abrogate the constitutions, or bill of rights, of the states, or any of them, or any part of the said constitutions, or bill of rights.

Resolutions of the State of Maryland
April 26, 1788



Arthur Lee

If there should ever be an influential president, or arbitrary senate, who do not choose that their transactions with foreign powers should be discussed or examined in the public prints, they will easily find pretexts to prevail upon the other branch to concur with them, in restraining what it may please them to call — the licentiousness of the press. And this may be, even without the concurrence of the representative of the people; because the president and senate are empowered to make treaties, and these treaties are declared the supreme law of the land.

“Cincinnatus” I
Reply to James Wilson's Speech
New York Journal,
November 1, 1787



That no treaty which shall be directly opposed to the existing laws of the United States in Congress assembled, shall be valid until such laws shall be repealed, or made conformable to such treaty; neither shall any treaties be valid which are in contradiction to the constitution of the United States or the constitutions of the several states.

Dissent of the Minority of the
Pennsylvania Convention
Pennsylvania Packet (Philadelphia),
December 18, 1787



Thomas Jefferson

Our peculiar security is in possession of a written Constitution. Let us not make it a blank paper by construction. I say the same as 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 other than the definitions of the powers which that instrument gives.

Letter to Wilson Cary Nicholas
Monticello,
September 7, 1803



And the senate has, moreover, various and great executive powers, viz. In concurrence with the president-general, they may form treaties with foreign nations, that may controul and abrogate the constitutions and laws of the several states. Indeed, there is no power, privilege or liberty of the state governments, or of the people, but what may be affected by virtue of this power. For all treaties, made by them, are to be the “supreme law of the land; any thing in the constitution or laws of any state, to the contrary notwithstanding.”...What an inducement would this offer to the ministers of foreign powers to compass by bribery such concessions as could not otherwise be obtained.

Dissent of the Minority of the
Pennsylvania Convention
Pennsylvania Packet (Philadelphia),
December 18, 1787


Back to top of page


















Contact us | View site map | Mobile version