The Volokh Conspiracy

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Today in Supreme Court History: July 27, 1929


7/27/1929: The Geneva Conventions are signed by United States. The Supreme Court would consider the Conventions in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (2006).

The Roberts Court (2006)


NEXT: "A Peaceful Demonstration Intensified"

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  1. The Conventions would not have been signed today under the Trump Administration, nor would they have been signed (obviously) by the George W. Bush Administration. Republicans were in support of them until Newt Gingrich turned the party in a new direction in 1994. It is important to note the party's changeover in leadership from the World War II generation (George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole), who had known what war was like, to the "hawks of hypocrisy" generation (men like Gingrich, George W. Bush, Cheney, Bolton, Trump, the list goes on and on), who liked to beat war drums in public life but who evaded military service when it was their turn to serve.

    1. Interesting that you leave Clinton out of those who evaded military service. Short selective memory?

      1. The comment to which you have responded expressly identified its subject as the Republican Party (in the context of its approach to issues addressed by the Geneva Conventions).

      2. Clinton tried to get out of the draft in a war he opposed. (His application was denied, but then his number never came up.) GW Bush, thanks to his family connections, actually did get out of the draft in a war he supported. Quite a difference.

        Also Clinton would have signed the Geneva Conventions, so his situation is not relevant here.

        1. Republicans would not have signed, Democrats would have signed.

          Lots of speculation to back up an embarrassing slip, methinks.

          1. You figure people who engaged in torture. started limitless detentions without trial, conducted 'extraordinary renditions,' and sent mercenaries into the field would have been stupid enough to sign the Geneva Conventions?

        2. Clinton tried to get out of the draft in a war he opposed.

          FWIW, I believe the only person who has ever said that Clinton opposed the war was Clinton. Given his later bloodthirstiness as politician, I doubt his opposition to the Vietnam War went any deeper than "I don't want to personally get killed in it".

          1. Clinton was liberal up until 1980. In that year he was defeated for reelection as governor of Arkansas by a troglodyte named Frank White, who banned the teaching of evolution. Clinton got back in in 1982 having tacked to the right. During the 1980's he became pro-death penalty and pro-war (to an extent). Hillary underwent a similar change during this period. You might call it cynical calculation but it wasn't as extreme and sudden as the change George H.W. Bush and Reagan had already effected with regards to abortion.

            1. I don't buy that. First of all, you understate the extent Bill Clinton was pro-war, pro-imperialism, and pro-death penalty. He was probably one of the farthest right wing politicians in history on the death penalty- he thought it was wonderful to execute Ricky Ray Rector and supported adding 50 new death penalty offenses, including for drug dealing(!), to the US code. This is a guy who favored the death penalty for the very people who ran the supply networks that allowed him to smoke marijuana when he was young.

              Bill Clinton only cared about one thing, and that was Bill Clinton. It wasn't some big ideological change- when supporting warfare and violence was good for Bill Clinton, he supported it.

              1. What I said flew right by you didn’t it?

    2. I don't think the Conventions would be ratified even by a Democratic Senate nowadays, or at least not without reservations and understandings that made them completely ineffective.

      The thing you complain about is actually bipartisan; there's really nobody in American politics who is actually willing to bind the nation to externally enforced rules about anything. The debate is whether we sign and occasionally ratify treaties while reserving the right to break them (Democrats) or don't sign them at all (Republicans).

      1. I don't think Democrats are pro-torture, which is what this whole discussion comes down to. As for Republicans, they are unashamedly pro. I remember people at the 2008 nomination debate being full throated for torture, to loud cheers. Then John McCain spoke against it, saying, "I have been tortured." Stony silence.

        1. Sure, Democrats are pro-torture. The Clinton administration commenced the rendition program, the whole point of which was to outsource torture to foreign governments. President Obama had an opportunity to prosecute the torturers- he didn't. And Democrats in Congress joined Republicans to keep Guantanamo open.

          The difference between Democrats and Republicans on this is that the Democrats want to achieve a certain amount of distance between the US legal system and torture, whereas the Republicans want it to just endorse it. Again, nobody's actually in favor (as I am) of simply allowing the ICC full jurisdiction to prosecute any US torturers.

          1. I’d like some citations.

          2. "President Obama had an opportunity to prosecute the torturers- he didn’t."

            I believe that was a grave mistake. Excusing Nixon and the torturers from accountability for their crimes were mistakes from which I hope the next Democratic president learns.

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