JANUARY 25, 1954
NEW YORK, Sunday—Judging by a letter which I read in one of our metropolitan newspapers, there is still confusion in the minds of some people on the purposes of the Bricker amendment. Referring to the proposed amendment, this correspondent writes that "it may come as a surprise to many to learn that many average Americans are under the erroneous impression that our basic rights enumerated in the Constitution should only be altered by constitutional amendment."
This is not an erroneous impression. Secretary Dulles, Attorney General Brownell and many of the country's leading law school deans, law professors and constitutional lawyers hold that this is the law. If this were what the Bricker amendment aimed to do, then the compromise Knowland proposition, clearly indicating the supremacy of the Constitution over treaties, would be acceptable to Senator Bricker. The fact that it is not acceptable shows that this is not the purpose of the Bricker amendment.
An able lawyer of my acquaintance has made the following statement about the amendment which I think should be carefully considered. He said: "The Bricker amendment would change the Constitution to provide that any treaty having internal effect, signed by the President and ratified by two-thirds of the Senate, would then have to be introduced as a new bill in Congress, subject to passage by a majority of the House, passage by a majority of the Senate, and signature again by the President. This five-step, cumbersome procedure would obviously impose great limitations on the whole process of treaty making at a critical time in world history."
What this really means is that, in the Bricker amendment, we are now trying to do what the founding fathers rejected as too cumbersome. Senator Bricker evidently feels that no future Senates and Presidents can be trusted. There are further restrictions which make the whole Bricker amendment a very cumbersome proposition. But it has been so widely discussed that I hope by now the people of this country will bring pressure on their representatives to reject an amendment that would make so difficult all our foreign relations.
I went for a few minutes on Thursday to the reception given by the Indian Ambassador to the U.N., Mr. Lall, to celebrate the publication of Louis Fischer's new life of Gandhi. I came away with a copy of this publication—a paperbound volume in what is known as the Signet Key Books, a 25-cent series published by the New American Library. The life of Mahatma Gandhi is one that should be read by all Americans who want to understand India.