The Secretary of State to the President1

My Dear Mr. President: Hearings on Senate Joint Resolution 1 “Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relative to treaties and executive agreements” (the Bricker amendment) are scheduled to be resumed March 4, at 10 a.m. before a subcommittee of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.

I am scheduled to be the first person to testify when those hearings are resumed. I feel strongly that the time for preparation is not adequate. An examination of the draft, which differs in many respects from that presented at the last session, shows that it contains provisions which require the most careful consideration and analysis. Any amendment to the Constitution is a serious matter which should be thoroughly considered, in the light of past history and our present circumstances as well as with a view to our future [Page 1786] requirements, before any definitive views are expressed by the government agencies concerned.

The proposed amendment specifically places in the hands of the Congress the power to determine what agreements the President may make and imposes other restrictions upon the existing authority of the President in the field of foreign affairs. It also has important implications which could seriously embarrass this nation in the conduct of its foreign relations. I am sending you a memorandum indicating some of those implications.2

At the meeting in the White House on February 27 of representatives of various agencies3 it was clear that each of those agencies needed more time to study the proposed amendment. It is difficult for me to find the time necessary to study the matter while performing my other functions. As the present amendment is considerably different from that proposed last year by Senator Bricker, an entirely new analysis and study are necessary. In view of these considerations I respectfully recommend that a request be made that the heads of the various agencies concerned be granted a postponement of at least some weeks from March 4 in order that they can adequately prepare their testimony.

As the work of preparation and coordination proceeds, it will be possible to suggest more precisely a date for the presentation of the Administration’s views.

Faithfully yours,

John Foster Dulles
  1. Drafted by Phleger and Bevans.
  2. The attached ten-page memorandum is not printed. It contained essentially the same points as the paper prepared in the Department of State which Secretary Dulles sent to the President as an enclosure to his memorandum of Mar. 31, p. 1796.
  3. This meeting is described in Bevans’ memorandum of Feb. 27, supra.