The Bricker Amendment and Authority over Foreign Affairs

ON June 15, 1953, the Senate Committee on the Judiciary favorably reported to the Senate by a vote of nine to five a constitutional amendment which would provide the legal basis for radically altering the present division of powers between the legislative and executive branches of the Federal Government in respect to the formulation and conduct of this country's foreign policy, and for necessary participation by State Governments in the execution of such policy in certain areas.

The proposed amendment, Senate Joint Resolution 1, was introduced by Senator Bricker on January 7, 1953, and is a revised version of Senate Joint Resolution 130 which he had introduced last year in the Eighty-Second Congress. The Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary held extensive hearings in both 1952 and 1953 on the proposed amendment. The text of the revised amendment, as reported to the Senate by the Judiciary Committee, is as follows:

Section 1. A provision of a treaty which conflicts with this Constitution shall not be of any force or effect.

Section 2. A treaty shall become effective as internal law in the United States only through legislation which would be valid in the absence of treaty.

Section 3. Congress shall have power to regulate all executive and other agreements with any foreign power or international organization. All such agreements shall be subject to the limitations imposed on treaties by this article.

Section 4. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Section 5. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission.

Register for free to continue reading.
Registered users get access to two free articles every month.

Or subscribe now and save 55 percent.

Subscription benefits include:
  • Full access to ForeignAffairs.com
  • Six issues of the magazine
  • Foreign Affairs iPad app privileges
  • Special editorial collections

Latest Commentary & News analysis