Bond Decision Clears Path for U.S. Adoption of Disabilities Treaty

New York City – Human Rights First today urged the Senate to move forward with ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities following today’s Supreme Court decision in Bond v. United States. The pending Bond case, which challenged the scope of treaty power when an individual had been prosecuted under a federal law for violating the Chemical Weapons Convention, was cited by some lawmakers as reason to delay U.S. entry into new treaties, including the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Supreme Court decided that the federal law used in the Bond case was intended for situations of war and terrorism, and does not apply to garden-variety criminal behavior that is properly the exclusive subject of state law.

“Now that Bond has been decided, those who were concerned about the case should have no further objection to adopting the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,” said Human Rights First’s Gabor Rona. “The United States has been a moving force in negotiating the treaty and already has well-established federal law enforcing the rights of disabled persons, the Americans with Disabilities Act. The terms for adoption of the Treaty already include language that would protect the rights of States to exercise their powers. Nothing in the Bond decision changes that or otherwise challenges either the wisdom or legality of adopting the Disabilities Convention. We urge the Senate to approve the treaty.”

Bond v. United States involved a challenge to the use of a federal law that implements U.S. treaty obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention as the basis for prosecution in Pennsylvania of a person alleged to have used a chemical agent to poison another person. In this case, Bond had tried to use toxic substances to harm another woman.

When the United States enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990, it inspired a global movement to protect the rights of disabled people everywhere. That movement produced the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which declares that all people, regardless of ability, deserve to live in dignity. This treaty has been ratified by 138 nations, including every major U.S. ally.


Published on June 2, 2014


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