Free Minds & Free Markets

Justin Amash Explains Why He Opposes Iran Deal

Rep has constitutional concerns with agreement.

FacebookFacebookRep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), a second-term congressman who provides an explanation of every vote he casts, based on a constitutional perspective, announced he would be voting against the Iran deal when it comes before Congress this month. 

On Facebook, he wrote

There are at least two major constitutional defects with the nuclear deal. 

First, President Barack Obama refuses to recognize the agreement as a treaty, subject to approval under the Constitution's Treaty Clause (Art. II, Sec. 2, Cl. 2). Under the Treaty Clause, 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." To avoid this higher threshold for approval, the Obama administration asserts that the nuclear deal is merely an "executive agreement" that binds only this president. 

Even if we accept this dubious claim, there is a second constitutional defect that compels me to reject the nuclear deal. Under the Take Care Clause (Art. II, Sec. 3, Cl. 5), the president must "take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed." As I discuss below, the president clearly fails to fulfill this obligation. 

Amash added that even setting aside his constitutional concerns, it was "unconscionable" the Obama administration didn't secure the release of three American hostages being held in Iran. The status of the hostages, as many other ongoing issues between the U.S. and Iran, were not part of negotiations between Iran and the U.S., the U.K., China, Russia, and France, a decision the Obama administration defends as necessary for negotiations to produce any results on the nuclear issue. 

As to the matter of the law, Amash explained that, in his view, the undisclosed "side deals" between the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEDA) and Iran, should have been included in the documents related to the Iran nuclear agreement submitted to Congress, per the Iran Nuclear Review Act. The Obama administration disputes that contention, saying agreements reached between Iran and the IAEA were not part of the agreement Iran, the U.S., and five other countries arrived at.  

As Amash notes, the Iran Nuclear Review Act defines agreement to include "annexes, appendices, codicils, side agreements, implementing materials, documents, and guidance, technical or other understandings, and any related agreements." The definition, however, also limits the "agreement" to agreements "related to the nuclear program of Iran that includes the United States, commits the United States to take action, or pursuant to which the United States commits or otherwise agrees to take action". The Obama administration contends the agreements between the IAEA and Iran don't involve the U.S. or commit it to action. 

Amash supported sanctions against Iran, and say it's likely they helped bring Iran to the negotiating table. Yet if Iran expected that negotiations would have to result in a treaty, with all the legal obligations that entails in every country involved, it's unlikely they'd come to the negotiating table, no matter the effect of sanctions. The demand an agreement with Iran be a treaty, which would have the constitutional force of law, seems late if the intent of supporting sanctions was to get Iran to negotiate on their nuclear program. 

The Iran Nuclear Review Act, for which Amash voted in favor, ceded to the prevailing view that the negotiations with Iran were meant to produce an "executive agreement," which unlike a treaty doesn't require Senate ratification but can also be revoked by a future president. Congress gave itself the power to vote to disapprove of the Iran agreement, a disapproval the president would be able to veto. The White House appears to have enough support in Congress to prevent an override of a veto.  

And it may not matter anyway, with the House and Senate looking unlikely to be voting on the same bills on the Iran deal. If the Congress is unable to pass anything on the Iran deal, it will be considered approved, per the Iran Nuclear Review Act. This despite, or because of, the deal plummeting to just 21 percent support in national polling. Instead of voting on a resolution of disapproval, as Senate Republicans are hoping to do, if they can overcome Democratic opposition, House Republicans will force a vote on a resolution of approval, and additional votes on the agreement and sanctions, meaningless votes except for the campaign trail. 

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

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  • Antilles||

    There's only one reason a Republican would oppose Obama: they hate Blacks. I heard that on MSNBC so you know it has to be true.

  • timbo||

    It matters not.

    This is how banana republics work. just submit

    war is peace

  • Aloysious||

    Ed: have to say you have had me laughing since last Monday. And thanks for not making this post about that guy whose name starts with a 'T'.

  • ||

    Tarquinius Superbus?

  • Lee G||

    No no no

    That guy who feels sorry for the foolish.

  • Swiss Servator||

    Fools, he pities them?

  • DK||


  • Notorious UGCC||


  • Rhywun||

    Surprised to find anyone outside the porn thread.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Justin Amash Explains Why He Opposes Iran Deal

    Arab/Persian rivalry?

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    Who wins in the food department? Show your work.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I'm torn. On the one hand, kebsa is but a poor man's pelau...but Persian kabobs have nothing on shawarma.

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    Lebanese-Mexicans perfected shawarma. And now I'm hungry.

  • Paul.||

    You're the most beautiful girl I've ever seen... with a Kebab.

  • ||

    Arabs for sure. Lebanese. Moroccan. French colonies. QED.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Peacenazis hardest hit.

  • Juice||

    Peacenazis? Is that like virginitywhores?

  • Lord at War||

    Peacenazi is just another name for the elusive Canadian Chickenshit...

  • Cytotoxic||

    Good thing I'm neither.

  • tarran||

    Justin Raimodo appears in the facebook comments thread to shriek about Amash selling out to the neocons.


  • Heroic Mulatto||

  • tarran||

    More to the point, Justin Raimodo is engaging in one of the most annoying things prevalent in the current pundit culture: putting motivated reasoning on a pedestal.

    Let's assume that Raimodo is right, that the deal is required to avoid war... how does that overcome Amash's position? It doesn't! If anything if Raimodo and Obama are correct, it puts the onus on Obama to persuade people that this is the right thing to do - and to honor the commitments he has made towards those whose support he needs.

    Amash is under no obligation to trust Obama. He is under no obligation to agree with Ron Paul, Raimodo or Lew Rockwell. Calling him a neocon when not one of his arguments is neoconish (in fact, Amash's argument is one that neocons explicitly reject, being a movement defined by its support for revolutions that enhance the state's ability to act decisively), is pathetic.

    The anger and rage is the icing on the cake. This is what Raimodo and the anti-war crowd are reduced to - demanding that people support a secretive international agreement negotiated by a socialist and militarily aggressive president - simply because many of the people opposing the agreement are their enemies.

    I guess if Obama proposes a "let's rape gay men act" and Cheney comes out in opposition to it, Raimodo would be angrily denouncing anyone who argues in opposition to the state raping gay men like Justin Raimodo.

  • Paul.||

    it puts the onus on Obama to persuade people that this is the right thing to do - and to honor the commitments he has made towards those whose support he needs.

    In the old days, that would have meant having this deal ratified by the Senate.

    Yeah, yeah, I know, GO HOME POPS! THAT'S NOT THE WAY WE RUN A COUNTRY OF 320,000,000 PEOPLE!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    If the Congress is unable to pass anything on the Iran deal, it will be considered approved, per the Iran Nuclear Review Act.

    Thank you, Congressman Amash!

  • BigT||

    I thought the deal was unconstitutional because Congress could not delegate its authority, even to itself, in a way that avoids constitutional prescriptions. Con scholars, help me out here.

  • Lee G||

    I'm not a constitutional scholar, but I play one on the interwebs....

  • ||

    I stayed at a Hiliday Inn Express last night.

    Does that count ?

  • Cytotoxic||

    "Yet if Iran expected that negotiations would have to result in a treaty, with all the legal obligations that entails in every country involved, it's unlikely they'd come to the negotiating table, no matter the effect of sanctions. "

    Unless 1) they needed the money that bad and/or 2) the 'obligations' on Iran's part are farcical.

  • Mrs. Lemuel Struthers||

    So, when's Chapman going to jump in and tell us Amash is hysterical?

  • ||

    As soon as he insults Trump?

  • brady949||

    So fact based, coherent opposition to this deal is actually possible? WHO KNEW

  • ||

    Sure, and it's essentially meaningless. Just as any reasoned position that contrasts with the will of the mob usually becomes.

  • BigT||

    According to my TV the deal has only 21% support. The mob appears to be against this stinker (as it was against Obamacare and TARP).

  • Paul.||

    The good news is, post the treaty, Iran is toning down its rhetoric by publicly announcing Israel won't exist within 25 years.

  • Notorious UGCC||

    "meaningless votes except for the campaign trail"

    That's not meaningless.

    Holding a vote means Congresscritters have to commit themselves on an issue. That increases their accountability to the voters.

    That's why Congresscritters whose views might be repugnant to their constituents try to act off the radar, keeping contentious issues off the floor.

    Because if they take a stand they're bound to offend one side or the other. But if they just issue vague press releases about "balancing peace with security," then so long as they avoid specifics they hope to get voter support from both sides.

    These Congress should hold lots of roll-call votes, requiring the Congresscritters to let people know where they stand.

  • Notorious UGCC||

    *Thus* Congress should hold lots of roll call votes...

  • Notorious UGCC||

    The down side is that the side which forces the votes tries to play tricks like putting forward a repeal of the Bill of Rights and tacking on a resolution expressing a favorable opinion of Mom, apple pie, and cute puppies.

    So when someone votes against the Mom, Apple Pie, Puppies and Preventive Detention Act, you can have campaign ads with sad puppies whose owners say, "why does this politician hate puppies," etc.

    But at least you can try to refute these ads by showing exactly what it was you voted against.

    But if you manage to avoid voting altogether, you can just claim to be for "fairness" and it's hard to call you on it.

  • ||

    Amash is a stud. He never ever disappoints.

  • Common Citizen||

    The first compromise of integrity I know of by Amash. His arguments are pure neocon sophistry. I guess no politician has integrity. He has lost me.

  • Swiss Servator||

    Poor Justin...he may never recover from such a loss!

  • SamDod598||

    Sounds like a plan dude.


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