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Senate Republicans Block Ratification Of U.N. Treaty On Rights For The Disabled, Citing Impact On Home-Schoolers

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Longtime Republicans like Sens. John McCain (AZ), Dick Lugar (IN) and John Barrasso (WY) voted for the treaty. But that didn't stop the party's more conservative members from warning that it would violate U.S. sovereignty and dictate to parents with home-schooled children.

"I do oppose the CRPD because I think it does impinge upon our sovereignty," said Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK). "Unelected bureaucratic bodies would implement the treaty and pass so-called recommendations that would be forced upon the United Nations and the U.S. ... This would especially affect those parents who home-school their children. ... The unelected foreign bureaucrats, not parents, would decide what is in the best interests of the disabled child, even in the home."

Inhofe was joined by Republican Sens. Jim DeMint (SC), Mike Lee (UT), Marco Rubio (FL) and most of the party's leadership in quashing the treaty. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY), who is up for re-election in 2014, voted against it.

"I and many of my constituents who home-school or send their children to religious schools," said Lee, "have justifiable doubt that a foreign body based in Geneva, Switzerland, should be deciding what is best for a child at home in Utah."

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), a proponent of the treaty, was flummoxed by the opposition.

"I've heard some of my Republican colleagues talk many times about making the rest of the world more like America," he said. "I hate to think that now, when we have an opportunity to do that, they will retreat from the core conviction and oppose a treaty modeled on the United States example which has no recourse in American courts and no effect on American law."

The conservative Republicans warned that the international community is a scary place.

"I have been an advocate of human rights around the world," Inhofe said. "However, I do not support the cumbersome regulations and potentially overzealous international organizations with anti-American biases that infringe upon American society."

About The Author

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Sahil Kapur is TPM's senior congressional reporter and Supreme Court correspondent. His articles have been published in the Huffington Post, The Guardian and The New Republic. Email him at sahil@talkingpointsmemo.com and follow him on Twitter at @sahilkapur.