December 6, 2012 — Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) successfully mounted a "crusade" against U.S. ratification of a United Nations treaty that endorses equals rights for people with disabilities, New York Times columnist Gail Collins writes. More than 125 other countries have already signed the treaty, which is modeled after the Americans With Disabilities Act, Collins notes.
Santorum took issue with wording in the treaty that he thought could lead to laws banning home-schooling for children with disabilities. Although he later acknowledged that probably will not happen, he also "theorized that someone might use the treaty in a lawsuit 'and through the court system begin to deny parents the right to raise their children in conformity with what they believe,'" according to Collins. However, as she notes, "the Senate committee that approved the treaty included language specifically forbidding its use in court suits."
"There would almost certainly have been plenty of votes to approve the treaty if the Republicans had felt free to think for themselves," Collins continues, noting that some of the GOP senators who voted against it had previously supported it. She suggests that conservatives' "big worry was, of course, offending the Tea Party. ... The same Tea Party that keeps threatening to wage primaries against incumbents who don't do what they're told. The Tea Party who made those threats work so well in the last election that Indiana now has a totally unforeseen Democratic senator."
Although the "hard right has a thing about the United Nations," it seems that the "threat the Republicans need to worry about isn't in the United Nations," Collins writes (Collins, New York Times, 12/5).
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Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
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