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May 31, 2013

Your Brief Against Treaties that Create New Laws


We just reported to you on the delivery of a brief to the Supreme Court: McCutcheon v. FEC. Now here comes another one that DC Downsizers helped fund: Bond v. United States.

This new brief attacks a 1920 decision, Missouri v. Holland, where a federal court ruled that Congress can pass legislation to impose treaty terms on U.S. citizens.

Our new brief is actually in response to Bond’s second appearance before the Supreme Court. Thus, we’ll call this brief Bond 2. Recall how we got here…

  • Bond 1 dealt with a case where Carol Ann Bond was prosecuted under federal rules dealing with chemical weapons after she attempted to poison a female rival.
  • Bond argued that the Tenth Amendment denies any federal power to prosecute her. She should have been charged under Pennsylvania’s criminal laws.
  • A lower court rejected Bond’s argument, saying that only the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania could bring such a Tenth Amendment challenge.
  • But the Supreme Court ruled that Bond had standing to challenge the constitutionality of the law. They sent her case back through the lower courts with instructions to hear her challenge.
  • There, the Federal State successfully argued that treaty power trumped Bond’s Tenth Amendment rights.

It was in these lower federal courts that the Missouri v. Holland precedent was used to rule against your Tenth Amendment rights. The judge’s opinion was chilling…

“…the arguable consequence of Missouri v. Holland is that treaties and associated legislation are simply not subject to Tenth Amendment scrutiny, no matter how far into the realm of states’ rights the President and Congress may choose to venture.”

In other words…

Congress can impose laws based on commitments made to other countries in treaties, even if those laws exceed federal powers or violate the Bill of Rights.

Why bother amending the Constitution? Just sign a treaty!

Bond 2 appeals the claim from the lower courts that your Tenth Amendment rights can be so easily disposed. So…

We wrote our brief in support of this Bond 2 challenge. Thank you to everyone who contributed to make this possible. You can read the brief here.

Here’s what you accomplished…

The Constitution established a tiny number of federal crimes. ALL other criminal laws were left to the lower states and localities. But today there are more than 6,000 federal offenses. Many of these were created because of treaties with other countries using the Holland decision.

Your support for our brief in Bond v. United States may help to reverse this sad state of affairs by weakening or overturning the Holland precedent.

If you like what we do with these briefs, and you want to see us do more of it, please consider supporting our work on a regular basis by starting a monthly credit card pledge with the Downsize DC Foundation.

Thanks for doing all you can do,

Jim Babka
Downsize DC Foundation

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