What does poisoning a goldfish to get revenge on a cheating spouse have to do with the President’s power to make treaties? The constitutionally correct answer is: Nothing at all. Unfortunately, that’s not how the Obama Administration sees it. The Administration is claiming power to get into a domestic dispute under the authority of a chemical weapons treaty. And it is aggressively advancing the proposition that Congress’s power is essentially unlimited when based on the treaty power.
The federal government has been prosecuting Carol Anne Bond for causing minor burns to the fingers of her husband’s girlfriend after spreading a caustic chemical used in developing photographs around her home. Ms. Bond has fought the prosecution by arguing that the Constitution gives power over such domestic disputes to the States.
According to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Congress implemented a chemical weapons treaty by enacting a law that expands the treaty’s purpose and turns “each kitchen cupboard and cleaning cabinet in America into a potential chemical weapons cache.” In an earlier phase of the litigation, Justice Samuel Alito asked, “Suppose that the Petitioner in this case decided to retaliate against her former friend by pouring a bottle of vinegar in the friend’s goldfish bowl. As I read this statute, that would be a violation of this statute, potentially punishable by life imprisonment, wouldn’t it?”Details