How Does the United States Ratify Treaties?

The Senate Does NOT Ratify Treaties  – This is a good primer on the ratification process

The President…shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur… Constitution of the United States, Art. II, Sec. 2

The Founders of our Nation understood that we might need to join international agreements – but they didn’t make it easy. The Constitution gives the President the power to commit the United States to treaties – but only with the advice and consent of two-thirds of the US Senate, and only if the agreement does not contravene the Constitution.

The process to ratify a treaty may be lengthy, but it is relatively straight forward:

Negotiation:

Representatives of US Government work with those from other countries to reach agreement on the substance, wording, and form of an international agreement. With more than 190 countries involved today, gathering wide support for a document can take years! The Government, under presidents from both parties, led the way in the negotiations for the CRC, resulting in a treaty inspired by US laws.

Signature:

If the President decides that a treaty is in the nation’s best interests (and does not violate the US Constitution!), the President (or designated representative) will sign the treaty. Signing a treaty does not make it become law! It means that the US Government believes the treaty is a good idea, and commits the President to seeking ratification. Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright signed the CRC on behalf of the US in 1995.

Sending the Treaty to the U.S. Senate:

Once signed, the next step in the ratification process is to send the treaty to the US Senate, more specifically, to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. To do so, the State Department is responsible for putting together a package of documents to go along with the treaty, including:

  • Policy benefits and potential risks to the US;
  • Any significant regulatory or environmental impact; or,
  • Analysis of the issues surrounding the treaty’s implementation, for example, whether the agreement is self-executing, or whether it needs domestic implementing legislation or regulations to abide by the treaty.

In addition, the State Department may propose a set of Reservations, Understandings, and/or Declarations (RUDS). These provisions include any specific additions, changes or deletions in the language and substance of the treaty that the US will require in order for it to ratify.

Senate Consideration and “Advice and Consent”

With the treaty package in hand, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee can begin its consideration. It can vote to send the treaty to the full Senate for action, with a favorable or unfavorable recommendation, or even without any recommendation at all; it can also decide to ignore the treaty entirely. However, if the Committee fails to act on the treaty, it is not returned to the President. Treaties, unlike other legislative measures, remain available to the Senate from one Congress to the next, until they are actively disposed of or withdrawn by the President.

When the Committee on Foreign Relations sends a treaty to the full Senate, the Senate considers whether to give its “advice and consent” or approval. That requires 67 votes, or two-thirds of the 100 Senators. The Senate may make its approval conditional by including in the consent resolution amendments to the text of the treaty, its own RUDS, or other statements.

Back to the President

Even if the Senate votes in favor of a treaty, there is still another step in the ratification process. Only the President, acting as the chief diplomat of the United States, has the authority to ratify a treaty. With the Senate’s approval, the President can then move forward with the formal process of ratification. That means submitting documents giving the US Government’s agreement to abide by the treaty, as well as any RUDS, to an institution (called a “depositary”). The deposit of the instruments of ratification establishes the consent of a state to be bound by the treaty.

http://childrightscampaign.org/why-ratify/how-does-the-united-states-ratify-treaties

Texas Lawmaker Wants Constitutional ‘License To Discriminate’ Against LGBT Workers And Customers

POSTED ON NOVEMBER 11, 2014 AT 2:40 PM UPDATED: NOVEMBER 12, 2014 AT 9:10 AM

State Sen. Donna Campbell (R), seen here looking up at Rick Santorum in 2013, is proposing a constitutional amendment protecting a religious right to discriminate against LGBT people. CREDIT: AP

State Sen. Donna Campbell (R), seen here looking up at Rick Santorum in 2013, is proposing a constitutional amendment protecting a religious right to discriminate against LGBT people.
CREDIT: AP

Texas businesses would be allowed to fire LGBT employees and turn away LGBT customers under a new proposal issued Monday by state Sen. Donna Campbell (R).

Campbell’s proposal would strengthen existing protections in Texas for the “right to act or refuse to act in a manner motivated by a sincerely held religious belief,” a legal maneuver that critics have described as a “license to discriminate.” This year, many state legislatures have considered putting the religious rights of business owners over the civil rights of would-be customers. Similar proposals in Kansas, North Carolina, South Dakota,Arizona, and Oregon ultimately failed this year, while a number of other states have held that the law protects LGBT folks from discrimination even if that discrimination is based in scripture.

Mississippi signed a license to discriminate into law, and Kentucky lawmakers overrode the governor’s veto to put their own religious freedom law into effect. In Pennsylvania, lawmakers who are trying to extend non-discrimination protections to LGBT couples have so far been stymied.

These laws have come into vogue after numerous anti-LGBT small business owners have refused service to LGBT clients in Kentucky, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont, New Mexico, Iowa, Colorado, and other states in recent years. Many of these disputes involve bakeries and other vendors who refuse to contract for services at same-sex weddings, but some businesses have refused to print Pride t-shirts or put rainbow frosting on an order of cookies.

Conservative political forces have leaped to these companies’ aid, arguing that their religious convictions about sexuality trump everyone else’s civil rights against discrimination. Those calls grew louder after this summer’s Supreme Court decision that a retailer called Hobby Lobby did not have to provide health insurance that covers birth control due to the company’s religious views, a ruling that reversed decades of precedentwhereby legal protections tied to religious faith were limited to actions that did not impede other people’s rights.

Sen. Campbell’s new proposal in Texas is her second bite at the license-to-discriminate apple. Her first, in 2013, didn’t go very well. Critics pointed out that by amending the state constitution as she proposes, lawmakers would empower Westboro Baptist Church protesters to attend military funerals rather than protesting them from afar. One commentator applauded Campbell’s intentions but warned that the way her proposal was written might some day allow a person to claim a sincere religious belief in the right to an abortion, effectively legalizing abortion in Texas.

Her new proposal is “nearly identical” to the 2013 version, according to the Lone Star Q, which also notes that Texas already has a statute on the books that “provides strong protections for religious freedom.” Campbell’s proposal removes a key adverb from the legislative language, which a lawmaker who helped pass the existing religious freedom law says would render the protections far too expansive.

While many conservatives are convinced that the religious liberty to discriminate against LGBT coworkers and clients is under attack, there are still 29 states where it is completely legal to fire someone for their sexual orientation. Workplace discrimination against transgendered people remains legal in 32 states. The federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) passed the Senate last year, but never had a chance of advancing in Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) House of Representatives.

Even before Republicans retook the Senate earlier this month, ENDA already lost significant support from progressive LGBT groups who feel that the laws carve-outs for religious employers are too broad. With ENDA politically dead for the time being, President Obama has used executive authority to provide workplace discrimination protections to federal workers and anyone employed by a business that contracts with the government, and has not provided religious carve-outs in those executive orders.

http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2014/11/11/3591183/texas-license-to-discriminate-constitution/?elq=~~eloqua..type–emailfield..syntax–recipientid~~&elqCampaignId=~~eloqua..type–campaign..campaignid–0..fieldname–id~~

Measure 89 Would Provide Momentum for Federal ERA: Guest opinion

By Guest Columnist
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on October 18, 2014 at 1:47 PM, updated October 18, 2014 at 1:48 PM

In this March 2013 photo, Leanne Littrell DiLorenzo, founder of VoteERA.org and chief petitioner for Oregon's Measure 89, discusses her proposal to add the equal-rights amendment to the Oregon constitution as Reps. Julie Parrish, R-West Linn, and Wally Hicks, R-Grants Pass, listen during a news conference at the state Capitol in Salem. (AP Photo/Jonathan J. Cooper)

In this March 2013 photo, Leanne Littrell DiLorenzo, founder of VoteERA.org and chief petitioner for Oregon’s Measure 89, discusses her proposal to add the equal-rights amendment to the Oregon constitution as Reps. Julie Parrish, R-West Linn, and Wally Hicks, R-Grants Pass, listen during a news conference at the state Capitol in Salem. (AP Photo/Jonathan J. Cooper)

By Leanne Littrell DiLorenzo

Why is it important to vote yes on Measure 89?

(1) Women are not equal in the Oregon Constitution.

(2) Women are not equal in Oregon case law, as there is an exception for “biological differences.” Current case law exempts discriminatory laws that are “justified” by specific “biological differences” between men and women, and Measure 89 would remove that exemption.

(3) Women are not equal in the United States Constitution.

Measure 89 will establish state policy banning discrimination based on sex.  The language of Article I, Section 20 of the Oregon Constitution, written in 1857, has not changed.  Under it women could not vote, could not serve on juries, most could not own property, and women still do not have equal pay for equal work.

Measure 89 will provide momentum for women’s equality in the U.S. Constitution by engaging all those who are still working on the federal ERA to follow Oregon’s lead.  After 91 years the federal Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) has still not been added to the U.S. Constitution, even though it has been introduced in Congress every single year since 1923.  It passed in Congress once in the ’70s but fell three states short of the deadline for ratification.

The U.S. Constitution still does not adequately protect women.   “Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t,” said U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in 2011.

Four former Oregon Supreme Court justices took the extraordinary step of writing an open letter in favor of Measure 89 to debunk several arguments made by detractors. Their June 2014 letter is signed by former justices Paul De Muniz, W. Michael Gillette, Richard William Riggs and George Van Hoomissen. It made clear that women do not have the strongest protection in the Oregon Constitution. They said “… no current provision in the Constitution expressly provides those protections … Instead, the protections available to women are present as a result of case law … Measure 89 would remove the biological differences exception.”  This is why women would ultimately have full equality.

One opposition group says others’ rights could be affected by passage of an Oregon ERA. The justices stated: “The text of the ERA itself provides that nothing in it will diminish the rights of any group under any provision of the Oregon Constitution. …Oregon’s Office of Legislative Counsel has also issued opinions further supporting that nothing in ERA proposal will diminish the rights of any other group. At least 22 states have adopted equal rights amendments in their constitutions. Not one of the ‘concerns’ voiced by [detractors] has ever come to pass in those states.”

The Justices concluded with another reference to the detractors of the measure: “They are mistaken to oppose passage of the Oregon ERA. We believe that passage of the Oregon ERA will acknowledge the contributions and importance of more than 50% of our citizens by finally providing women express recognition in our state’s most important document, its constitution.”

The women who sought the right to vote needed to resort to the initiative just as we have. On five separate occasions, Oregonian editor Harvey Scott was against women gaining the right to vote even though his sister was Abigail Scott Duniway, the leader of the suffragist movement of the Pacific Northwest and the first woman to vote in Oregon in 1912.  But the women prevailed.

Measure 89 has broad bipartisan support.  In addition to the four former Oregon Supreme Court justices, supporters include former Court of Appeals Judge David Schuman, former Oregon Attorney General Dave Frohnmayer and Oregon Women Lawyers.  Supporters come from a long list of organizations, elected officials, community leaders and Oregonians from all over the state, including U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, former Congresswoman Darlene Hooley, former state Sen. Margaret Carter, YWCA, NAACP of Eugene, Oregon Business Association, League of Women Voters, Democratic Party of Oregon, Clackamas County Republican Party, AFSCME and many more.

Please join me in voting “yes” on Measure 89.

Leanne Littrell DiLorenzo is chief petitioner for Measure 89 and founder and president of VoteERA.org.

http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2014/10/measure_89_would_provide_momen.html#comments

Celebrate Women’s Equality Day By Supporting Constitutional Equality for Oregon Women

womens-equality-day

April 26 is Women’s Equality Day, the day designated by the United States Congress to commemorate the 1919 passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution granting women the right to vote.  Women have made many positive gains since 1919 but women are still not “equal”.   Oregonians have the opportunity to help make women a little more “equal” this November by voting YES on Measure 89, which would place an Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) into the Oregon Constitution. 

            Across the board, women earn far less than men.  This is true even in higher paying professions such as medicine and engineering.  It is also true in government jobs.  In Oregon, women earn only seventy-nine percent (79%) of what men earn, and many more women than men are paid only the minimum wage.  This has huge long-term consequences, with women earning over $400,000 less in their lifetimes than men overall. (Hannah K. Hoffman, Statesman Journal, 8/10/14).   This also means women receive less in Social Security and pension benefits when they retire. 

            Women are much more likely than men to be the victims of domestic and sexual violence.  This is true in the military, it is true on our college campuses, and it is true in Oregon.  

            Over twenty (20) states have equality between men and women spelled out in their constitutions; Oregon does not.  The federal ERA has not been ratified by the necessary two-thirds (2/3) of the states, so there also is nothing in the federal constitution guaranteeing women’s equality.  Women make up more than fifty percent (50%) of the population and their equality should be supported in both the federal and Oregon constitutions.  We can make this happen in Oregon in November by voting YES for Measure 89:  “State/political subdivision shall not deny or abridge equality of rights on account of sex.”  For more information:  www.VoteERA.org.           

Nancy Campbell Mead

VoteERA.org board member

nm3567@msn.com

503-577-3585

ERA BALLOT MEASURE 89 WINS TOP ENDORSEMENT OF FORMER OREGON ATTORNEY GENERAL DAVE FROHNMAYER

Frohnmayer

 ERA BALLOT MEASURE 89 WINS TOP ENDORSEMENT OF FORMER OREGON ATTORNEY GENERAL DAVE FROHNMAYER. 

 

Dave Frohnmayer joins four former Oregon Supreme Court Justices who support Ballot Measure 89. Frohnmayer has served Oregonians for a lifetime.  He most recently served as President of University of Oregon.

In the last few days Ballot Measure 89 has also won endorsements from AAUW, Oregon Education Association, Oregon Nurses Association, AFSCME, IBEW 48, and minutes ago we received the endorsement from the Asian Pacific Network of Oregon to which we are thrilled.

“This is a day women and girls around Oregon can be incredibly proud that the former Oregon Attorney General Dave Frohnmayer and four former Oregon Supreme Court Justices have come out in support of ballot measure 89, placing the Equal Rights Amendment in the Oregon Constitution, respecting their right to have their equality expressed in our Oregon Constitution…this I hope will be the talk at the dinner table tonight from Coos Bay to Medford to Bend to Pendleton to Portland, Eugene and the coast because this is a long hard road and today Oregon shines,” said Leanne Littrell DiLorenzo, President of VoteERA.org and a chief petitioner of the ERA ballot measure 89.

The four former Oregon Supreme Court Justices penned an open letter stating that the Oregon Constitution does not have the strongest possible protection again sex discrimination and that the protections available to women are a result of caselaw.  The letter from the justices closes the letter “We believe that passage of the Oregon ERA will acknowledge the contributions and importance of more than 50% of our citizens by finally providing women express recognition in our state’s most important document, its constitution.” Signed by Senior Justice Paul De Muniz, Justice W. Michael Gillette, Justice Richard William Riggs, and Justice George Van Hoomissen on June 12, 2014.( Judge Letter at www.VoteERA.org)

With bi-partisan support in the Oregon Legislature on the ERA legislation that had the same language as our ballot measure, Oregon can be very proud.

A partial list of Oregon leaders who have endorsed ballot measure 89 include:

Governor John Kitzhaber and First Lady Cylvia Hayes 

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden

U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley

Congressman Earl Blumenauer

Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici

Congressman Peter De Fazio

Congressman Kurt Schrader

Congresswoman Darlene Hooley

Former Oregon Attorney General Dave Frohnmayer

Secretary of State Bill Bradbury

Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian

State Senate President Peter Courtney

Oregon Senate Majority Leader Diane Rosenbaum

State Senator Laurie Monnes Anderson

State Senator Alan Bates

State Senator Lee Beyer

State Senator Ginny Burdick

State Senator Richard Devlin

State Senator Betsy Johnson

State Senator Floyd Prozanski

State Senator Arnie Roblan

Retired State Senator Margaret Carter

Speaker of the House of Representatives Tina Kotek

House Majority Leader Val Hoyle

State Representative Jeff Barker

State Representative Phil Barnhart

State Representative Brent Barton

State Representative Deborah Boone

State Representative Peter Buckley

State Representative Brian Clem

State Representative Caddy McKeown

State Representative Joe Gallegos

State Representative David Gomberg

State Representative Mitch Greenlick

State Representative Tobias Read

Oregon Education Association (OEA)

Oregon Nurses Association

AFSCME

IBEW 48

 And more…

Who (So far!) Has Endorsed the Oregon Equal Rights Amendment?

An initiative to place a state Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) into the Oregon Constitution recently qualified for the November 2014 ballot. That means voters will decide if Oregon will finally expressly provide for equality between men and women in its most important legal document, its constitution. Twenty-two states already have ERAs in their constitutions, Oregon does not. A federal ERA has been three states shy of being ratified for years, so there is also no guarantee of equality in our federal constitution.

Some of those who have endorsed an Oregon ERA are:

Governor John Kitzhaber and First Lady Cylvia Hayes
Former Governor Vic Atiyeh

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden
U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley
Congressman Earl Blumenauer
Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici
Congressman Peter De Fazio
Congressman Kurt Schrader
Former Congresswoman Darlene Hooley
Former Secretary of State Bill Bradbury
Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian
State Senate Majority Leader Diane Rosenbaum
State Senate President Peter Courtney
State Senator Laurie Monnes Anderson
State Senator Alan Bates
State Senator Lee Beyer
State Senator Ginny Burdick
State Senator Richard Devlin
State Senator Betsy Johnson
State Senator Arnie Roblan
Former State Senator Margaret Carter
Speaker of the House of Representatives Tina Kotek
House Majority Leader Val Hoyle
State Representative Jeff Barker
State Representative Phil Barnhart
State Representative Brent Barton
State Representative Deborah Boone
State Representative Peter Buckley
State Representative Brian Clem
State Representative Joe Gallegos
State Representative David Gomberg
State Representative Mitch Greenlick
State Representative Tobias Read
…and others!

National Organization for Women (NOW) – Oregon
American Assn. of University Women (AAUW) – Oregon
Eleanor Smeal
The Alice Paul Institute
ERA Coalition

And four (4) retired Oregon Supreme Court Justices (Former Chief Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court Paul DeMuniz, Justice R. William Riggs, Justice W. Michael Gillette, and Justice George Van Hoomissen) have said: “We believe that passage of the Oregon ERA will acknowledge the contributions and importance of more than 50% of our citizens by finally providing women express recognition in our state’s most important document, its constitution.”

The language of the Ballot Measure is simple:

“The Constitution of the State of Oregon is amended by creating a new section 46 to be added to and made a part of Article I, such section to read:
SECTION 46. (1) Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the State of Oregon or by any political subdivision in this state on account of sex.
(2) The Legislative Assembly shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this section.
(3) Nothing in this section shall diminish a right otherwise available to persons under section 20 of this Article or any other provision of this Constitution.”

Show your support for equal rights for women and men to finally be expressly guaranteed in Oregon’s Constitution by VOLUNTEERING and DONATING. For more information go to: www.VoteERA.org

Hobby Lobby proves need for ERA: Column

Carolyn B. Maloney1:39 p.m. EDT July 9, 2014

As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s forceful dissentput it, the 5-4 decision rendered in the Hobby Lobbycase is one “of startling breadth” that is going to create a “minefield.” And because the decision will constrain the ability of women to obtain affordable reproductive health care, the first people to be injured by that “minefield,” are women.

If you were to ask “Where are the women?” on the list of issues that the conservative members of the Supreme Court considered in making their Hobby Lobby decision, the answer is clearly, at the very bottom.

Once again, because women are not specifically mentioned in the Constitution as being entitled to equal treatment under the law, the conservatives on the Court were free to render a decision that ignores the concerns and rights of women even though that decision has a disproportionately negative impact on women, and only on women.

As Justice Ginsburg’s dissent notes, the Hobby Lobby decision will effectively “deny legions of women who do not hold their employers’ beliefs access to contraceptive coverage.” She notes that the cost of an IUD is nearly the equivalent of a month’s full-time pay for workers earning the minimum wage. Similarly, the cost of “Plan-B” is realistically out of reach for millions of low wage women.

Unlike men, women must rely on contraceptives as a critical element of their health care. For the sake of their health, women have a substantial interest in limiting the number and timing of their children. Some women have health conditions that make childbearing dangerous, including congenital heart disease, pulmonary hypertension, and Marfan syndrome. Contraceptives can reduce the risk of certain cancers, relieve menstrual disorders, severe PMS, and the sometimes excruciating pain of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2014/07/08/contraception-era-hobby-lobby-column/12291971/