16 Facts About Bricker Amendment


Bricker Amendment is the collective name of a number of slightly different proposed amendments to the United States Constitution considered by the United States Senate in the 1950s.

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Bricker Amendment's proposal attracted broad bipartisan support and was a focal point of intra-party conflict between the Eisenhower administration, which represented the more internationalist liberal Republican element, and the Old Right faction of conservative Republican senators, based in isolationist Midwestern strongholds.

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Bricker Amendment said the Convention's language was sweeping and vague and offered a scenario where a white motorist who struck and killed a black child could be extradited to The Hague on genocide charges.

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Duane Tananbaum, the leading historian of the Bricker Amendment, wrote "most of ABA's objections to the Genocide Convention had no basis whatsoever in reality" and his example of a car accident becoming an international incident was not possible.

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Proponents of the Bricker Amendment said this language made it essential to add to the Constitution explicit limitations on the treaty-making power.

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Two additional cases frequently cited by proponents of the Bricker Amendment were both related to the Roosevelt Administration's recognition of the Soviet government in 1933.

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Senator Bricker Amendment thought the "one world" movement advocated by those such as Wendell Willkie, Roosevelt's Republican challenger in the 1940 election, would attempt to use treaties to undermine American liberties.

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Bricker Amendment was the embodiment of the GOP's "Old Guard, " borne out by his voting record: Americans for Democratic Action gave him a "zero" rating in 1949.

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However, Bricker Amendment was not a doctrinaire non-interventionist; he had voted in favor of the Marshall Plan and the North Atlantic Treaty.

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Bricker Amendment was not trying to reverse the Yalta Agreement, in contrast to the goals of some of his conservative colleagues; he was worried most about what might be done by the United Nations or under an executive agreement.

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President Harry S Truman was adamantly opposed to limitations on executive power and ordered every executive branch agency to report on how the Bricker Amendment would affect its work and to offer this information to the Judiciary Committee.

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Eisenhower sent Attorney General Herbert Brownell to meet with Bricker Amendment to try to delay consideration of the resolution while the administration studied it; Bricker Amendment refused, noting his original proposal was introduced over a year earlier in the previous session of Congress.

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However, the administration, particularly Dulles, irritated Bricker Amendment by refusing to offer an alternative to his resolution.

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Roberts dismissed the Bricker Amendment, declaring "we must decide whether we are to stand on the silly shibboleth of national security, " a statement supporters of the Bricker Amendment eagerly seized upon.

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Bricker Amendment would have to turn conservative Senators against it too, conservatives who were at the moment wholeheartedly for it—and not just Democratic conservatives but at least a few members of the Republican Old Guard.

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Senator Bricker introduced another proposal later in the 83rd Congress and proposed similar constitutional amendments in the 84th and 85th Congresses.

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