Iran deal undercuts individual state sanctions against Tehran

Regardless of how the congressional vote on the Iran nuclear deal turns out, individual states who have imposed sanctions on companies doing business with Iran may find themselves undercut by the president's insistence that all sanctions be lifted.

The former treasurer of Missouri, Sarah Steelman, penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal outlining how the administration could make all state laws punishing companies that do business with Iran obsolete.

We are left to wonder how the Obama administration intends to proceed against these sanctions at the state level. Federal law of course pre-empts state law, but does this agreement, which still lacks congressional approval, trump state laws and constitutions? What kind of consequences might the president suggest for state officials who continue to follow the divestment and sanctions programs duly enacted by their states?

The battle to enact sanctions was a long and difficult one at every level of government. In Missouri, opponents of divestment stonewalled requests for investment information, used scare tactics and called names. It was a constant grind over several years, mainly because pension-fund managers told people that divestment would decrease their returns. This same kind of opposition was encountered in other states, such as Florida, Indiana, California, Ohio and South Dakota, that followed Missouri’s lead.

The highly advertised “snapback” provision that puts sanctions back in place if Iran violates the agreement is a figment of Mr. Obama’s imagination. Once the sanctions are gone, they are not coming back.

No taxpayer wants his tax dollars to help those who have killed our soldiers, as Iran has. This agreement undermines the will of the people in the states that adopted these policies and will allow billions of dollars of taxpayer money to flow to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Americans can blunt the damage this agreement will do by contacting state officials and demanding that present legislation that prohibits doing business with companies invested in Iran continues to be enforced. The bottom line is always the bottom line: Money talks and the ayatollah listens. Now, while the president is urging a dangerously bad deal, is not the time to stand idle.

If this were a formal treaty that obtained Senate approval, there would be no question about the status of sanctions enacted by individual states.  They would be lifted along with the sanctions imposed by Congress.

But this deal is not a treaty – or at least, the Obama administration refuses to designate it as such.  Hence the ambiguity surrounding state sanctions. 

It might be prudent for Missouri and other states who have imposed sanctions to maintain their stance and force the Obama administration to sue them.  It would take quite a bit of legal legerdemain to prove that the agreement has the force of law – especially since if Congress votes the agreement down, the president is liable to lift sanctions anyway, as far as it is in his power to do so.  A court would have a hard time forcing states to adhere to an agreement that Congress has rejected.

Regardless of how the congressional vote on the Iran nuclear deal turns out, individual states who have imposed sanctions on companies doing business with Iran may find themselves undercut by the president's insistence that all sanctions be lifted.

The former treasurer of Missouri, Sarah Steelman, penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal outlining how the administration could make all state laws punishing companies that do business with Iran obsolete.

We are left to wonder how the Obama administration intends to proceed against these sanctions at the state level. Federal law of course pre-empts state law, but does this agreement, which still lacks congressional approval, trump state laws and constitutions? What kind of consequences might the president suggest for state officials who continue to follow the divestment and sanctions programs duly enacted by their states?

The battle to enact sanctions was a long and difficult one at every level of government. In Missouri, opponents of divestment stonewalled requests for investment information, used scare tactics and called names. It was a constant grind over several years, mainly because pension-fund managers told people that divestment would decrease their returns. This same kind of opposition was encountered in other states, such as Florida, Indiana, California, Ohio and South Dakota, that followed Missouri’s lead.

The highly advertised “snapback” provision that puts sanctions back in place if Iran violates the agreement is a figment of Mr. Obama’s imagination. Once the sanctions are gone, they are not coming back.

No taxpayer wants his tax dollars to help those who have killed our soldiers, as Iran has. This agreement undermines the will of the people in the states that adopted these policies and will allow billions of dollars of taxpayer money to flow to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Americans can blunt the damage this agreement will do by contacting state officials and demanding that present legislation that prohibits doing business with companies invested in Iran continues to be enforced. The bottom line is always the bottom line: Money talks and the ayatollah listens. Now, while the president is urging a dangerously bad deal, is not the time to stand idle.

If this were a formal treaty that obtained Senate approval, there would be no question about the status of sanctions enacted by individual states.  They would be lifted along with the sanctions imposed by Congress.

But this deal is not a treaty – or at least, the Obama administration refuses to designate it as such.  Hence the ambiguity surrounding state sanctions. 

It might be prudent for Missouri and other states who have imposed sanctions to maintain their stance and force the Obama administration to sue them.  It would take quite a bit of legal legerdemain to prove that the agreement has the force of law – especially since if Congress votes the agreement down, the president is liable to lift sanctions anyway, as far as it is in his power to do so.  A court would have a hard time forcing states to adhere to an agreement that Congress has rejected.