Ohio History Journal

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John W. Bricker Reflects Upon the

Fight for the Bricker Amendment



John W. Bricker, long a prominent name in the politics of Ohio and

the United States, will forever be known to students of American his-

tory as the author of a proposed amendment to the Constitution.1 Pop-

ularly called the Bricker Amendment, this Senate Joint Resolution was

first introduced on September 14, 1951, as Senate Joint Resolution 102.

Following extensive consultation, Senate hearings, and much national

publicity, the proposed Amendment was presented to the Senate for a

climactic vote on February 26, 1954. The version most widely debated

within the Senate had the following three major sections:

Section 1: A provision of a treaty which conflicts with this Consti-

tution shall not be of any force or effect.

Section 2: A treaty shall become effective as internal law in the

United States only through legislation which would be valid in the

absence of a treaty.

Section 3: Congress shall have power to regulate all executive and

other agreements with any foreign power or international organization.

All such agreements shall be subject to the limitations imposed on

treaties by this article.

There have been various interpretations suggesting why the Bricker

Amendment was proposed. Most analysts concur that the executive

agreements concluded by Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Second


Marvin R. Zahniser is Professor of History at The Ohio State University. He wishes

to thank Professor Joseph May of Youngstown State University for sharing his wide

knowledge of the background to the Bricker Amendment.


1. Mr. Bricker served as Ohio's Assistant Attorney General, 1923-1927; as Attorney

General, 1933 1937; and as Governor from 1939-1945. In 1944 he was Thomas E.

Dewey's vice-presidential running mate on the losing Republican ticket. He was elected

Senator from Ohio in 1946, which position he held until 1958 when he was defeated by

Democrat Stephen M. Young. Mr. Bricker is presently senior partner in the Columbus,

Ohio, law firm of Bricker, Evatt, Barton & Eckler. Mr. Frank E. Holman, Seattle attor-

ney and past president of the American Bar Association, must likewise be recognized

as a major architect of the Bricker Amendment. A short but stimulating discussion

over the fight for adoption of the Bricker Amendment is found in Herbert S. Parmet,

Eisenhower and the American Crusades (New York, 1972), 305-13.