Sovereignty is defined as the exclusive right to exercise supreme political (e.g. legislative, judicial, and/or executive) authority over a geographic region, group of people, or oneself. A sovereign is the supreme lawmaking authority, subject to no other. Thus the legal maxim: There is no law without a sovereign.
Will the United States continue to be a sovereign nation in the coming decades? In a careful examination of many recent U.S. Supreme Court cases, our legislative authority appears to be diminishing under the laws of foreign nations.
Perhaps a better question would be: Is it possible our judges will be the sole lawmakers in our society, leaving the legislative branch to do nothing but idly accept the court’s “opinions,” which come from other countries? According to former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the Court “will rely increasingly … on international and foreign courts in examining domestic issues.” But why is this so important to America’s sovereignty? Why should we not look to the rest of the world for guidance on our laws and customs?
The answer is simple: without examining our own Constitution, founding documents, and societal norms, our right and authority to govern within our borders will be lost. Ultimately, America will then be subject to others – other countries, other constitutions, and other international courts of law.
Take for example the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, where our U.S. soldiers and even our government officials could be prosecuted, all without the rights afforded to us under our judicial system, including a trial by jury. Although former President Bill Clinton signed a treaty making the U.S. subject to this foreign court, President George W. Bush rightly unsigned the treaty in 2002, protecting the rights of our citizens from vague and untried laws created under the umbrella of the inept United Nations.
Many Americans see this as a no-brainer. Why would the U.S. be willing to sacrifice our laws, our judicial system, and even our constitution under the guise of “international law”? If there are concerns about our system, why not amend the Constitution or pass new laws instead of opening ourselves up to be ruled by foreign dictators across the globe? U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer said it will be a “challenge” to “fit” our Constitution into the governing documents of other nations. With all due respect, Justice Breyer, why does it matter? Did our Founders intend for our Constitution to be just like those of other nations, like Britain, or like China?
Not only is Justice Beyer’s speculation disconcerting, but so are the interpretations and dependence upon international law by other justices. Justice Anthony Kennedy brought it to life in the opinion of Roper v. Simmons, when he used Iran, the Congo, and China (to name a few) to justify abolishing the death penalty for those who are only 17 years old when they murdered someone. Not only did this go against the majority of the state laws across the country, but in this specific case, he let a murderer off the death penalty despite the fact that he had kidnapped, duct-taped, beaten, and drowned a young woman. Would officials in the Congo have spared them also for this heinous crime?
As Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in his dissent in Lawrence v. Texas, which outlawed the state’s anti-sodomy law, “Constitutional entitlements do not spring into existence … because foreign nations decriminalize conduct.” Currently, for example, most states do not allow prisoners to vote, but in 2004 the European Court of Human Rights ruled such laws breached their human rights. Will such a “right” spring into action in a court near you, or will Americans stand up and fight for the authority to govern themselves as their constitution allows?
The big picture, which activist judges seem to be missing, is that although these foreign nations appear to be providing new “rights” to their citizens, which the rest of the world should model, there is no judicial system anywhere that models the United States. More than 90% of jury trials in the world take place in America where everyone is afforded the due process rights of having an attorney and the right of a fair trail by one’s peers. Certainly Communist China does not afford its citizens with such rights, nor does the Saudi Arabian Monarchy, so why then should our U.S. Supreme Court be looking to them for guidance? Do they have a Bill of Rights or even the right to appeal a death sentence? No. Nor do any of these international laws provide a system of justice that declares one innocent until proven guilty.
Americans can no longer stand by and allow foreign dictators to determine how our laws are interpreted or written. As Phyllis Schlafly has so aptly warned, “We must let Congress know that they must require judges to base their decisions on the U.S. Constitution and that it is a violation of the judge’s oath of office to base decisions on foreign laws or customs. If the United States cannot make its own laws, we cannot be a sovereign nation.”