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Bricker Amendment


BRICKER AMENDMENT to the U.S. Constitution was introduced in January 1953 by Senator John W. Bricker of Ohio, a former governor of his state and the Republican vice presidential nominee in 1944. According to the original bill, no part of any treaty that overrode the Constitution would be binding upon Americans, treaties would become law only "through legislation which would be valid in the absence of a treaty," and Congress would have the same restrictions upon presidential executive agreements that it did upon treaties. Cosponsored by some sixty-four senators, the amendment reflected their abhorrence over Franklin Roosevelt's foreign policy, the possible prerogatives of the United Nations, and fears that U.S. armed forces overseas could be tried in foreign courts. Frank E. Holman, president of the American Bar Association in 1948 and 1949 and a Seattle attorney, drafted the legislation.

In the course of a year the amendment underwent several versions, with Senators Arthur Watkins (Republican from Utah) and Walter George (Democrat from Georgia) offering drafts favored by the more isolationist faction and Senators William F. Knowland (Republican from California) and Homer Ferguson (Republican from Michigan) offering renderings endorsed by the administration of Dwight D. Eisenhower. In February 1954 the Senate defeated the amendment by one vote. It was never resubmitted, and after Bricker failed to be reelected in 1958, the issue was dropped.


Koo, Youngnok. "Dissenters from American Involvement in World Affairs: A Political Analysis of the Bricker Amendment." Ph.D. diss., University of Michigan, 1966.

Tananbaum, Duane. The Bricker Amendment Controversy: A Test of Eisenhower's Political Leadership. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1988.

Justus D.Doenecke

See alsoIsolationism ; Treaties, Negotiation and Ratification of .

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