At least according to one California congressman, all of this debate in Congress over the Iran nuclear deal is much ado about nothing. If Congress wants to approve it (or if they fail to override the President’s expected veto) that’s fine. But if they shoot it down there’s really no need to worry. Barack Obama can just ignore them. Kerry Picket reports at the Daily Caller.
California Rep. Brad Sherman warns that even if Congress were to override Barack Obama’s veto of the Iran deal, the president could still get the deal he wants.
Sherman, a Democrat who serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, grilled Sec. of State John Kerry Tuesday over whether the administration would follow the law if Congress votes against the administration’s deal with Iran and overrides the president’s veto.
“So, you’re not committed to following the law if you think it’s a bad law?” Sherman asked.
“No,” Kerry said. “I said I’m not going to deal with a hypothetical, that’s all.”
Sherman later told reporters Wednesday that there were different options on the table that Obama could seriously consider if the Congress overrode his veto.
First of all, this isn’t a White House spox saying what the President plans to do. It’s just one Democrat expressing an opinion about what the President could do if he can’t stop congress from scotching the deal. But does it really sound all that unlikely given the recent habits of our now unbridled president? Let’s look at the options under discussion.
Right off the top, Sherman theorizes that the President can simply announce that any banks who do business with Iran will not be penalized or face the sanctions specified in the Menendez-Kirk amendment. The sanctions may exist on paper, but if nobody enforces them they really don’t mean much. But don’t worry… it’s not as if this administration has a history of picking and choosing which laws to enforce, right? (Just ask the Border Patrol)
Next, Sherman opines that Barack Obama can simply tell the rest of the world to go along with the deal and assure them that they won’t face any consequences from the United States. And if that gets baked into the cake as established US policy, the next President will be hard pressed to complain about it to those other nations since they were just following the lead of the sitting president.
And how does Sherman justify the path of having the Executive branch simply ignore the constitutionally granted powers of the Legislative branch? Simple! You just redefine what a “treaty” is.
“This is not a treaty. It’s not a legislative executive agreement. It is the lowest form of temporary accommodation between a group of national leaders. Under the Vienna convention on treaties this is as low as you can go. As far as being binding it is not binding at all on anybody,” Sherman argued. “But what we have to do is prevent confusion in America and around the world. If it’s not a treaty, not second to a treaty and not third to a treaty — if it’s the lowest level, but the image of it looks like a ratified treaty, then politically it is and legally it isn’t.”
There is some simply dizzying doublespeak flying around in there. You almost have to admire it for the sheer audacity and boldness. But it also appears to fall flat on its face under even mild scrutiny. First of all, the Vienna Convention on Treaties is a United Nations document, so how seriously you want to take it is up to you. It’s only binding as long as the signatory parties are interested in it being binding. But even if we were to assume this had some sort of force, the fact that there are different “levels” of treaties does nothing to change the baseline definition which begins the document.
“Treaty” means an international agreement concluded between States in written form and governed by international law, whether embodied in a single instrument or in two or more related instruments and whatever its particular designation.
How on Earth does the Iran deal cooked up by John Kerry and others not qualify under that stunningly simple definition? Now combine that definition with the pesky wording of Article II Section 2, which instructs us that 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. Now, that doesn’t mean that the President might not wind up ignoring all of that anyway, but finding support for such a decision which abides within the rule of law would be a stretch of the imagination to say the least.