MLive reports that earlier today that Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette sent a letter to the governors of all 50 states suggesting that they take it upon themselves to enact their own economic sanctions against Iran. He suggests (1) ensuring that state agencies (particularly pension funds) are not engaged in any business or investment in Iran, and (2) asking state legislatures to enact their own economic sanctions.
Schuette, despite being a former member of the United States House of Representatives, has apparently not read Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution, which states:
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…”
The Heritage Foundation (not exactly a bastion of liberalism), in its handy dandy online Guide to the Constitution, says this:
Another reason for involving both President and Senate was that the Framers thought American interests might be undermined by treaties entered into without proper reflection. The Framers believed that treaties should be strictly honored, both as a matter of the law of nations and as a practical matter, because the United States could not afford to give the great powers any cause for war.
In other words, the Treaty Clause was enacted specifically to vest the power of treaty negotiation in the Executive Branch precisely so this kind of thing doesn’t happen. To suggest a total disregard for the powers of the Treaty Clause is a massive overreach for a guy who likes to bleat about the Founding Fathers and their original intentions. Moreover, the Treaty Clause exists specifically for the purpose of working to exhaust all possible avenues for diplomatic solutions before running off to war.
The Heritage Foundation’s guide goes on to point out that the Founding Fathers explicitly gave the power of assent to the Senate and not the House because states’ delegations to the House are proportional, but in the Senate every state gets an equally-sized — if not equally influential — voice.
They were afraid that the interests of a larger, relatively powerful state would trample on the interests of smaller states and create a mess in US foreign policy.
Unfortunately, it seems like that’s exactly what Bill Schuette is aiming for.