Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly


The United States Constitution enjoys a special, sacred status that encourages the United States to treat its constitutional rights standards as definitive and therefore entitled to override conflicting standards in human rights treaties. When ratifying human rights treaties, the United States has entered reservations that are designed to ensure that constitutional rights standards will remain in force, even when they are less protective of rights than their international counterparts. Where women's rights are concerned, the United States has effectively rejected the international standard of equality for women, upholding instead the intermediate-tier standard developed under the Equal Protection Clause. Reluctant to draw attention to its non-conforming domestic standard on women's rights, the United States has been less than candid in official statements to the international community. So far, the United States has failed to ratify the Women's Convention (CEDAW). If it ever does ratify CEDAW, it will be subject to a set of proposed reservations that will ensure that U.S. women can claim nothing more than the rights currently afforded under the Equal Protection Clause. This Article calls for a critical assessment of such constitutional reservations to human rights treaties.