Question 8

Under what circumstances, if any, is the president, when operating overseas as commander-in-chief, free to disregard international human rights treaties that the US Senate has ratified?

Barack Obama

It is illegal and unwise for the President to disregard international human rights treaties that have been ratified by the United States Senate, including and especially the Geneva Conventions. The Commander-in-Chief power does not allow the President to defy those treaties.

Hillary Clinton

The international human rights treaties that the U.S. has joined represent an historic advance for the cause of human freedom. Under our Constitution, they also are the law of the land, and the President has the same duty to comply with them as with any other valid law.

John Edwards

The president should consult with Congress before withdrawing from a treaty, although the courts have recognized that the president has the authority unilaterally to withdraw from a treaty.

Bill Richardson

All treaties ratified by the Senate are US law, and the President does not have the right to break the law. If a President chooses to formally abrogate a treaty under that treaty's provisions, he may do so legally.

Christopher Dodd

He is bound by international treaties so long as the US remains a party to them.

Joseph Biden

Treaties are the supreme law of the land under Article VI of the Constitution. The President must faithfully execute them, just as he must faithfully execute laws approved by Congress. He has no power to disregard treaties.

John McCain

I know of no circumstance. Again, it goes back to what the law says – if there is a treaty that the Congress has ratified, we have chosen to make it the law of the land, and it must be obeyed under the terms that it was ratified.

Mitt Romney

The President must carry out all of his duties in a manner consistent with the rule of law, whether it is our Constitution or valid international agreements, so long as they do not impinge upon the President’s constitutional authority.

Ron Paul

Well, he never has the right to violate any human rights, but because he should obey the constitution, not because of the international treaty. But so I would get to that point but not because of the treaty but because of the Constitution. ... If he's overseas and the treaty is in effect and would protect human rights -- see I keep thinking well we shouldn't be over there. So if we're there -- and I can't see myself being over there - well, okay, the answer would be that he would have to obey the treaty.

Rudy Giuliani

Giuliani declined to answer this question.

Mike Huckabee

Huckabee declined to answer this question.

Fred Thompson

Thompson declined to answer this question.