Sputnik Escalates the Cold War
Teaser Image

Bricker, John William (1893–1986)

Staunchly conservative Republican U.S. senator from Ohio (1947–1959) and sponsor of the Bricker Amendment. Born in Mount Sterling, Ohio, on 6 September 1893, John Bricker earned his bachelor's degree from Ohio State University in 1916. During World War I, he served as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

In 1920 Bricker earned a law degree from Ohio State University and began practicing law in Columbus, Ohio. Fairly quickly, he entered public service and during 1920–1928 was solicitor in a Columbus suburb. He also served as assistant attorney general for Ohio. During 1930–1937 he was Ohio's attorney general; in 1939 he was sworn in as the state's governor, an office he held until 1945. In 1944 he campaigned unsuccessfully for his party's vice presidential nomination. Longing to hold national political office, Bricker won election to the U.S. Senate in 1946 and began serving his term in January 1947.

Bricker made his political mark in 1951 when he sponsored an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would have curbed the federal government's power to negotiate or enter into treaties with foreign nations. Dubbed the Bricker Amendment, the attempted constitutional alteration stipulated that no treaty could be entered into that was in conflict with the U.S. Constitution, was self-executing without domestic legislation passed by Congress, or granted Congress legislative powers beyond those prescribed in the Constitution. Finally, the amendment sought to limit the president's powers to negotiate executive agreements with other powers. The background to the Bricker Amendment was long and complicated. Succinctly put, conservative lawmakers (most of whom were Republican) wished to rein in what they saw as the presidential excesses of the Roosevelt and Truman administrations. Alarmed that Truman had taken the United States into war in Korea without congressional approval in order to uphold the United Nations (UN) Charter, Bricker wished to circumvent presidential power. But the measure was also indicative of the Republicans' often baffling paranoia of supranational organizations, especially the UN.

Bricker garnered sixty-four cosponsors of the amendment, from both sides of the aisle. Nevertheless, the measure was still shy of the two-thirds majority required. Many liberal groups opposed the measure. The bill was reintroduced after the 1952 elections swept the Republicans into power. Nevertheless, it went down to defeat after President Dwight D. Eisenhower openly opposed it. Bricker reintroduced the amendment during every subsequent congressional session without it ever passing. After Bricker left the Senate in January 1959, he returned to Ohio to practice law. He died on 22 March 1986 in Columbus, Ohio.

Paul G. Pierpaoli Jr.


Further Reading
Tananbaum, Duane A. The Bricker Amendment Controversy: A Test of Eisenhower's Political Leadership. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1988.
 

©2011 ABC-CLIO. All rights reserved.

  About the Author/Editor
  Introduction
  Essays
  A
  B
  C
  D
  E
  F
  G
  H
  I
  J
  K
  L
  M
  N
  O
  P
  Q
  R
  S
  T
  U
  V
  W
  Y
  Z
  Z
  Documents
  Images
ABC-cLIO Footer