Test Ban Treaty - Part 2

November 12, 1999

When is a treaty, a ratified treaty? Well, according the Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution, the president has the power to make treaties with the advice and consent of the Senate (provided two thirds of the senators present concur). In other words, a treaty isn't a treaty until the Senate ratifies it.

But according to President Clinton, "That treaty still binds us, unless I go and erase our name . . . unless the President takes our name off, we're bound by it." He said that the day after the Senate rejected the treaty 51-48.

Now Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has been saying that the United States is legally bound to observe the test-ban treaty despite the Senate's rejection of the pact. Her letter was a formal diplomatic notice that the administration will abide by the treaty even though it was not ratified by the Senate.

So there you have it. According to the administration, a treaty is a binding treaty as soon as the president signs it. It is binding, even if the Senate rejects it. At least that appears to be what President Clinton and Madeleine Albright are saying.

One Republican Senate aide said, "The president is not Louis XIV. He cannot declare that he is the state. The Senate has made it clear by its vote that the United States intends not to be a party to the [test-ban] treaty."

This latest battle between the president and Congress is a timely reminder for all of us to study the Constitution and hold our leaders accountable. Either we run government by the Constitution or we should amend it. But it appears that more and more those in elected office are choosing a third option: to ignore the Constitution all together.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.