On 9 March 2015 Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas drafted a letter cosigned by 46 additional United States Senators to the Leaders of the Islamic State of Iran. Supposedly this letter’s intent was a brief civics lesson.
First, the Constitutional lesson being “taught” by these 47 United States Senators is technically incorrect. The apparently misunderstood Constitutional aspects are stated succinctly by Professor Jack Goldsmith of Harvard Law School.
If one wonders about Professor Goldsmith’s qualifications, here is a link to what I would guess is an abridged curriculum vitae which lists his education and professional experience.
Second, do these United States Senators understand that differences exist between United States Law and International Law? Negotiations are not between the United States and Iran, but between Iran and P5 + 1. That equation looking name represents United Kingdom, United States, Russia, China, and France, who are the 5 permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany.
Oversimplifying on my part by not addressing situations such as an UNSC resolution and the veto power held by the countries with permanent seats and the obvious of any agreement may or may not be an official UN proposal, the other countries may reach an agreement without the support of the United States.
One historical example is that technically the United States remained in a state of war following the signing of the Treaty of Versailles which ended the First World War. The United States Senate for a number of reasons including a voting bloc of Senators often labeled as Irreconcilables in our history books did not approve the Treaty. We would sign individual peace agreements with the individual countries during the 1920s.
Other countries are not bound by the United States Constitution just as we are not bound by the laws of other countries. If you doubt me, please recheck your gun safes and cabinets because the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty passed and has been in force since Christmas. Despite the press reports stating the opposite would happen, I suspect that your guns and my guns have not been confiscated by UN agents.
Now whether or not these 47 United States Senators violated the Logan Act, 18 U.S. Code § 953, is something that I’ll leave for any readers to determine for themselves.
“Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.
This section shall not abridge the right of a citizen to apply, himself or his agent, to any foreign government or the agents thereof for redress of any injury which he may have sustained from such government or any of its agents or subjects.” (https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/953)
I also find disturbing that any discussions about term limits for US Senators at least are apparently off the table.
As Senator Cotton wrote:
“As applied today, for instance, President Obama will leave office in January 2017, while most of us will remain in office well beyond then—perhaps decades.”
Also, regardless of if you feel the assertion is correct or incorrect, if Senator Cotton and these other 46 United States Senators believe that,
“The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time”
in regard to international agreements, please tell me why in the freakin’ heck the Honorable Members of Congress are in such an uproar about President Barack Obama?
Constitutionally the President of the United States has more specifically stated and implied powers in international affairs than domestic affairs. So why doesn’t Congress simply pass legislation making any or all of the Executive Orders which are legally bounding and Executive Actions which are not legally bounding null and void?
I’ll argue that Barack Obama is more or less an average President. In my opinion he has strong points and weak points just like his predecessors.
One final thought, however, is that Barack Obama is either the worst and least powerful dictator or tyrant in the history of the world or that his political opponents criticizing him must be among the weakest and most incapable individuals in the history of the human race.
I write that simply based upon a short letter signed by 47 United States Senators who may remain in office for decades because apparently they believe that Congress can modify terms of agreement at any time but have decided not to do so on the issues they assert that Barack Obama has exceeded his authority as President.