This week the U.S. Senate blocked a U.N. treaty aimed at protecting the rights of disabled people around the world. 125 countries have ratified it. The treaty is modeled on the American Disabilities Act, which Congress passed in 1990. However, 38 Republican senators voted against the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), leaving it five votes short of ratification.
Tonight Anderson talks with the son of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy. Ted Kennedy Jr. lost a leg to cancer when he was a child. He feels the Republican Party has turned its back on disabled Americans with this vote. “It’s a sad day for people with disabilities, and it’s a sad day for the U.S Senate,” Kennedy tells Anderson. “You ask yourself… who could be against a treaty that basically affords people with disabilities the same rights and opportunities of everyone else?” Kennedy believes several Republicans are to blame for the treaty’s demise after they spread “fiction” and “innuendo.”
In fact, several Republican senators said they supported the treaty, but they ended up voting against it this week. We’ll show you the flip-floppers tonight on the program.
Former GOP U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum led the charge against the treaty. Santorum’s four-year-old daughter, Bella, was born with a rare genetic disorder. He explained his opposition to the treaty in an op-ed published Wednesday by the Daily Beast. “CRPD gives too much power to the U.N., and the unelected, unaccountable committee tasked with overseeing its implementation, while taking power and responsibility away from our elected representatives and, more important, from parents and caregivers of disabled persons,” wrote Santorum. “We should be telling the U.N., not the other way around, how to ensure dignity and respect for the disabled,” he added later.
Keeping Them Honest, Santorum’s claims aren’t supported by the facts. Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a proponent of the treaty, called out Santorum on CNN’s The Situation Room. “He either simply hasn’t read the treaty or doesn’t understand it,” Kerry said Wednesday. “The United Nations has… no legal capacity to tell the United States to do anything under this treaty. Nothing.”
Here’s why: The treaty calls for the creation of a committee that can issue only non-binding recommendations on how nations can do better on disability. The key word: Non-binding. It does not require any changes to current U.S. federal or state laws.
Does Kennedy believe the U.S. will eventually pass the treaty one day? We’ll have that and much more tonight. Watch this preview and tune in for the full conversation at 8 and 10 p.m. ET.
Update: See the full interview here
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