The Legal Adviser (Phleger) to the Secretary of State, at Berlin

Dear Foster:

Bricker Amendment

I enclose clippings from today’s New York Times1 which relate to the vote of yesterday on the Bricker Amendment. The votes against the clarifying amendment would seem to be those who oppose any amendment. To them might be added Kefauver, and Wiley, and perhaps some others which adds up to quite a few.
Today Knowland intends to bring up clarifying amendments which would incorporate Sections 4 and 1 as sent you in my cable of the 13th.2 I understand Ferguson intends to try to make Section 1 read: “No treaty made after the adoption of this Constitution shall be the supreme law of the land unless made under the authority of the United States and in pursuance of this Constitution.” While this is objectionable as being retroactive, it does not appear that it would affect any existing treaties. There no doubt will be opposition to this.
I understand the President has said he does not intend to be drawn further into the matter, that he has made his position plain. He does not oppose an amendment which makes clear that treaties cannot override the Constitution, but he opposes anything which would cut down the traditional treaty-making power or destroy the balance of power or the President’s constitutional authority.
Knowland and Ferguson are trying to marshal enough votes to pass the text sent you on the 13th. If they cannot get George to accept the changes in Section 3, they will try and pass an amendment consisting of Sections 1, 2 and 4.


Herman Phleger
  1. These clippings were not further identified.
  2. Tedul 47, supra.