Editorial Note

On June 15, 1953, the Committee on the Judiciary, by an 8-5 vote, reported to the Senate an amended S.J. Res. 1. The title was changed to read, “A bill proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relating to the legal effect of certain treaties and executive agreements.” The language of the amended resolution resembled closely that of S.J. Res. 43, which Senator Watkins had introduced on February 16. The new version of S.J. Res. 1 reads as follows:

“Section 1. A provision of a treaty which conflicts with this Constitution shall not be of any force or effect.

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Sec. 2. A treaty shall become effective as internal law in the United States only through legislation which would be valid in the absence of treaty.

Sec. 3. Congress shall have power to regulate all executive and other agreements with any foreign power or international organization. All such agreements shall be subject to the limitations imposed on treaties by this article.

Sec. 4. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Sec. 5. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission.”

On June 16, in a telephone conversation with Secretary Dulles, Attorney General Brownell said that he had met with Senator Bricker and had offered a “compromise Section 1, eliminating Sections 2 and 3.” According to Brownell, Senator Bricker, who was to meet with the President that day, had been noncommital. Brownell had also told Senator Bricker that if he was worried about losing the support of the American Bar Association, the Administration would “get behind the compromise to get it ratified.” (Memorandum of telephone conversation, June 16, 1953, 11:07 a.m., Eisenhower Library, Dulles papers, “Telephone Conversations”)

According to the President’s appointment records, he met with Senator Bricker at 10 a.m. on June 16. It was noted that the Senator had asked for the appointment, “stating that he wished to talk to the President before the President’s next Press Conference, about S.J. Res. No. 1, the legislation to restrict the President’s Treaty making powers.” (Eisenhower Library, Eisenhower records, “Daily Appointments”) No further record of this meeting has been found at the Eisenhower Library.

In a telephone conversation the afternoon of June 17, Attorney General Brownell told Secretary Dulles that he had talked with Senator Bricker earlier in the day. He described Senator Bricker as “about beaten.” They had agreed in general to a compromise proposal which boiled down to an endorsement of Section 1 and a provision for creating a study group. The Secretary of State replied that he thought such an arrangement was all right and said that he would go so far as to allow the wording, “executive agreements shall not operate as domestic law except through Congressional legislation,” although he would prefer not to have it included. Dulles also explained how Holman and his supporters had tried unsuccessfully to persuade Senator Bricker to oppose the preamble to the Japanese Peace Treaty and that Dulles’ speech at St. Louis (presumably a reference to the April 1952 speech at Louisville) “was in part paying off Bricker for his aid to the treaty.” (Memorandum of [Page 1819] telephone conversation, June 17, 1953, 4 p.m., Eisenhower Library, Dulles papers, “Telephone Conversations”)