Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Parental Rights- Farris Hopeful as Senate CRPD Fight Continues

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November 12, 2013
Farris Hopeful as Senate CRPD Fight Continues

Anyone watching the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s November 5 hearing on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) may have thought it went poorly for those of defending our nation’s sovereignty and parental rights. But this past week we’ve seen signs that such appearances may have been deceiving.

A majority of the committee (and, thus, a majority of the witnesses who testified) support ratification of the treaty. Only our own Michael Farris and Susan Yoshihara of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM) testified in opposition to ratification in any form.

What’s more, a number of outspoken pro-treaty senators (Boxer, Menendez, and Durbin) seized the opportunity to attack Mr. Farris personally, taking issue with our campaign rather than answering any of the concerns we have raised. This made for a frustrating afternoon, but showed a conspicuous absence of any rational response to parental rights and national sovereignty issues.

We were further encouraged to hear solid questions raised by Senators Flake and Johnson. Senator Flake’s reference to the Bond case which came before the Supreme Court on the same day seemed especially troubling for treaty supporters. (The Bond case challenges the extent to which a ratified treaty can be used to expand the powers of the federal government.) Notably, when former Attorney General Richard Thornburg acknowledged that he was surprised to see the Department of Justice pursue a domestic case under the Chemical Weapons Ban Treaty Implementation Act, Senator Flake asked him how we could be confident that he would not also be surprised by similar unintended consequences of ratifying the CRPD.

We were additionally encouraged when a second hearing on the treaty, originally slated for November 12, was postponed to the 21st. Such a delay often occurs when the majority side wants more time to regroup after a hearing that didn’t go as they had planned.

Then on Friday, a strong treaty proponent – that is, a blogger for “the other side” – offered us yet another great boost of encouragement. Tina Minkowitz, a human rights attorney and a drafter of the CRPD, wrote an article opposing ratification with Reservations, Understandings, and Declarations (RUDs).

Though Minkowitz is clearly no fan of Michael Farris, nevertheless she agreed with his position that adopting the treaty using RUDs to “inoculate” ourselves from having to make any actual changes in domestic law would be unacceptable to the international community.

While senators from both parties discussed strengthening RUDs to protect American sovereignty, only Farris and Yoshihara warned in the hearing that any RUD to insulate our domestic policy from the CRPD would violate the treaty, a result Farris equated to “not ratif[ying] the treaty at all.” CRPD ├╝ber-supporter Minkowitz agreed:

“[Thornburgh] claims that the use of RUDs is an honorable practice [and] summarily dismisses the position that proposed RUDs are contrary to the object and purpose of the treaty without any substantive analysis. (CHRUSP on the other hand has analyzed both the most objectionable RUDs and the package as a whole as being contrary to the object and purpose of the CRPD.)”

(CHRUSP, the Center for Human Rights for Users and Survivors of Psychiatry, is an organization for whom Minkowitz is attorney and representative.)

The bottom line is this: we are hopeful that the treaty can be defeated once again, but we must keep the pressure on. We are not “out of the woods” by any means, and your calls and emails will make all the difference.

Action Items

Continue to call or email your two U.S. Senators (and, if you will, members of the Foreign Relations Committee listed here). Find your senators’ contact numbers by clicking on your state at parentalrights.org/states or call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

If any of these is your senator, please call and thank him for standing strong for parents and U.S. sovereignty by opposing this treaty: Sen. Corker, Sen. Flake, Sen. Risch, Sen. Rubio, Sen. Ron Johnson (Wisconsin).

Also, call your congressman and ask him or her to cosponsor HJRes. 50, the proposed Parental Rights Amendment, to permanently end the threat that treaties pose to your parental rights. (To first see if your congressman is one of the 65 already signed on, click here.) You can find their contact information also by clicking on your state at parentalrights.org/states or through the Capitol Switchboard (202-224-3121).

The next few weeks are critical to defeat the CRPD. If we can make it to Christmas without a floor vote on the treaty, our chances of winning rise considerably. (Senators will begin looking toward the 2014 elections early in the new year.)

Thank you for standing with us during this challenging time to preserve your parental rights and American self-government.


Michael Ramey
Director of Communications & Research

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