Disabilities treaty opposed by homeschool exec

Baptist Press
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Posted: Aug 22, 2012 4:52 PM
Disabilities treaty opposed by homeschool exec
WASHINGTON (BP) -- Few would argue against fair treatment of disabled persons, but some conservative leaders are crying foul over a United Nations treaty now poised to pass the Senate.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in July and sent it to the full Senate, where it will need a two-thirds majority -- 67 votes -- for ratification. The treaty's supporters include Democrats and some Republicans -- among them: Sen. John McCain of Arizona, former President George H.W. Bush and former Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas. Supporters contend that the agreement would essentially widen the effects of the Americans with Disabilities Act, giving disabled American citizens more rights when traveling abroad.

Home School Legal Defense Association chairman Michael Farris, however, warns that the CRPD would undermine the Americans with Disabilities Act by taking away U.S. sovereignty and handing it over to unelected U.N. bureaucrats.

"By definition, any we ratify becomes part of the highest law of the land," Farris said. "The idea that it has no legal effect just demonstrates that people do not understand international law."

Farris, who holds an advanced degree in international law from the University of London, said the Supreme Court already has set a precedent for referring to international law in Roper v. Simmons, Sullivan; Graham v. Florida; and Lawrence v. Texas. Farris contended that the treaty would become the ultimate authority in deciding what is best for a child with disabilities. He was one of nine witnesses to testify at a Foreign Relations hearing on the matter in July.

The committee's vote broke along party lines with the exception of Republican Sens. Richard Lugar of Indiana, John Barrasso of Wyoming and Johnny Isakson of Georgia, who sided with the Democratic majority in the 13-6 vote.

Isakson press secretary Marie Gordon said the senator "voted in favor of the in the committee because ratification would signal to the world that the U.S. is committed to continuing its role as the international leader in disability rights." Gordon said the treaty "will not erode our sovereignty."

Farris said Isakson and other supporters do not understand the difference between a treaty and a declaration. "They lack the knowledge to execute their offices and it's shameful," he said.

Some pro-life advocates take issue with the treaty's protection for "sexual and reproductive health," which arguably includes abortion. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., introduced an amendment to address that concern, but it was voted down.

Rubio voted against sending the CRPD to the full Senate, along with fellow Republicans Bob Corker of Tennessee, Jim DeMint of South Carolina, Mike Lee of Utah, James Inhofe of Oklahoma and James Risch of Idaho.

Farris said the odds of stopping the treaty from garnering 67 votes in the Senate are not good if the homeschooling community continues its opposition alone: "We need other defenders of U.S. sovereignty to stand up."

More than 115 countries have already signed the treaty.

J.C. Derrick is a writer for World News Service. Used by permission.

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