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actually threaten their welfare and fundamental rights. Khrushchev recently paid tribute to the propaganda value of television.
Inasmuch as legislation can be rushed through the House with little or no debate, it is more important than ever that some means be present to prevent the same thing from happening in the Senate. Making it easier to invoke cloture in this body would have the effect of breaking down our protection against such a development.
I want to make it clear that in pointing this out, I have no intention of implying sinister motives of any kind to our present President or any other important officeholder.
This, and my remarks about the need for skepticism of government, are no more than observations on the nature of government and the kind of persons who occasionally comprise it. It could hap
If I may be permitted to digress for a moment, we go back now to our friend Adolf Hitler, and Mussolini, and the tremendous individual appeal that they had to the people through the medium of mass communication, in which they swept them off their feet and with no control in the legislative body, were able to wreak havoc upon the people in the long run.
Senator Javits. Would you mind answering this question, however: Isn't it a fact that Mussolini and Hitler came to power because the people were frustrated by legislatures that didn't legislate and do for them the things that needed to be done?
Mr. KETCHUM. That could be true. I don't know.
Senator JAVITS. And a little band of willful men can tie up the Senate of the United States by filibustering, so that could bring on a legislative dictatorship; isn't that true?
Mr. KETCHUM. I don't agree it would be easier to bring on a dictator, through the imposition
Senator Javits. I didn't say that. I said if a legislature finds itself impotent, that is just as much an avenue as any other, by which a dictator may be brought on, who says to the people, “Your legislature won't help you; I will."
Mr. KETCHUM. I come to that point, whether this will serve to flaunt the will of the people in the long run.
Senator TALMADGE. Will you answer this question, please? Can you cite any illustration in all of history where free debate has created a dictatorship?
Mr. KETCHUM. No, I cannot, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. KETCHUM. It has often happened in the past that majorities, including well-meaning ones, have shown considerable disregard for the rights of minorities. At times, even courts have exhibited the same lamentable failure. This is a country whose distinguishing characteristic is concern for individual and minority rights. The individual and the minority must be protected against an unreasonable majority at all times.
In considering this factor we must bear in mind that Senate minorities represent not populations, but political entities, self-governing States. The minority protection in the Senate concerns the rights of the separate States, all of which are equally sovereign under the Constitution.
If the characteristics that distinguish the Senate from the House are to be preserved, that equality must be maintained. The right to unlimited debate-within reasonable bounds is a way of protecting that constitutional equality.
It appears to us that the present rule is reasonable and that it would be dangerous to change it so that less than two-thirds of Members of the Senate could override more than one-third on any matter. Surely, there is serious question about the immediate desirability of any piece of legislation if two-thirds of the Senate's Members cannot be rallied to support it by voting for cloture.
Loosening up the requirements for cloture will remove the almost free debate that has served in the past as a safeguard for the rights of States.
In spite of the fact that filibustering has been possible and used in the Senate for over 100 years, the Senate on the whole has been able to function well. Some fairly important bills have been killed temporarily by filibusters, but in most cases these same bills have subsequently been passed by the Senate. Only a relative few have been permanently killed.
There is no doubt that the filibuster can be abused, but so, too, can many other rights, privileges and institutions in our Government.
Today, Communists are obviously abusing the Bill of Rights, but no intelligent or serious-minded person is advocating that we throw out the Bill of Rights for this reason. The same applies to the filibuster.
The opinion of a Senate majority or a majority of Senators present and voting on any issue does not necessarily express the opinion of the majority of the people of this country. The Senate considers many issues before public opinion is formed on them. The claim that filibusters frustrate the will of the majority of the people is therefore often not tenable.
It is a fact, too, that the passage of a law which is strongly opposed by a significant minority of the people--and perhaps even by a majority in cases where public opinion is not formed-does more harm than good.
I believe that, all in all, it would have been a good thing if someone had been able to filibuster the 18th amendment, the prohibition amendment, to death.
In time, it became clear that the majority of the people in this country did not really support this amendment. It was eventually repealed-but not before tremendous harm had been done.
It encouraged crime and gangsterism and, of course, did not solve the drinking problem which, like many others, cannot be solved simply by legislation. Only time and education will provide sound solutions for many of our most vexing problems.
And, Mr. Chairman, I would like to digress for a moment to point out that one of the great statesmen of this country, only a day or so ago, in a copyrighted article in the American newspapers, in discussing what should be done, where a President is incapicitated for duty, very emphatically stated:
We must not hurry and jump to conclusions on something that should be done. We must take our time, look at this carefully, before we hurriedly enact some legislation or measures to provide what shall happen when a President becomes unable to fulfill the duties of his office.
actually threaten their welfare and fundamenta recently paid tribute to the propaganda value
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want to make it clear that in pointing of implying sinister motives of any kin: any other important officeholder.
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sof .nk on the matter of the Senate being a continyent , i man, it might be well to mention the name of the enator TALMADGE. I wish you would put it in the rain ( The pertinent portion of the Supreme Court decision it. %, 1. Dougherty may be found on p. 147.) Court specifically ruled that the Senate was a continuous boiy,
Senator Javits. Would you yield! My recollection of that en that there was dicta in it, which related to certain aspects of it.
Mr. SAYE. You are quite right.
Senator Javits. The case didn't rule that the Senate was a com tinuing body.
Mr. SAYE. You may be right. This was part of the opinion of the Court in this particular case in 1927. My views of the United States Senate are not--well, from the historical point of view, I think that the Senate has been held in much higher esteem than would be inferred from some of the previous statements. But I have a prepared statement. I will go a little faster, I think, if I begin with it."
Senator TALMADGE. Proceed. We don't want to hurry you unduly, but, at the same time, we do have many witnesses to hear, Doctor. We want you to take your time in your own way.
Mr. SAYE, Gladstone described the United States Senate as "the most remarkable of all the inventions of modern politics." It occupies a unique place among legislative bodies. It was designed by the Federal Convention as a check upon hasty actions by the House of Representatives, as a participant in executive functions, as a guardian of State rights, and as a stabilizing influence in the whole constitutional system. Joseph Story called it the “balance wheel” in our Government. It has served its purpose well.
Since its organization on April 6, 1789, there has never been a time when the Senate, as an organized body, has not been available at the President's call, or in accord with the terms of its own adjournment. for the transaction of public business. Its rules, adopted 10 days after its organization, have remained in force from 1789 to 1957 without reaffirmation. Amendments to these rules have been adopted in the
And I am referring now to former President Harry Truman.
It has often been said that the filibuster gives a few Senators a veto power. That may not be a bad thing.
Our country demanded the power of the veto in the United Nations, so that it would be able to protect its interests against an overwhelming majority vote of the 80 or so nations in that organization. Most Americans supported, and still support, that demand and the protection it has brought to this country in the world agency.
For this reason, strong argument can be presented for what is actually a very limited veto power in the Senate for the protection of the individual States which make up this Nation.
In closing, I would again like to express my appreciation for the opportunity to testify on this subject. Senator YALMADGE. Any questions?
Senator Javits. I don't want to detain Mr. Ketchum. I just have two questions, both very brief. .
Does the VFW have any resolution which it adopted on the so-called civil-rights measure?
Mr. KETCHUM, They do not.
Senator Javits. Is it intended to submit to them this August, at the time of the Convention, a resolution on rule XXII?
Mr. KETCHUM. I am not even sure a resolution on rule XXII will be submitted. Certainly I am not submitting one, but one may come. I have no advance knowledge that any resolution will come up on civil rights. We have attempted over the years to avoid becoming involved in the civil rights issue.
Senator JAVITS. Well, you are involved in it right up to your ears with this testimony, are you not?
Mr. KETCHUM. I don't think I have attempted to convey anything about civil rights here this morning.
Senator JAVITS. As a matter of fact, you know, do you not, that that is the principal fulcrum of this argument, that is, because the civil rights bills have been blocked! Senator TALMADGE. Will the Senator yield? Mr. KETCHUM. It would be civil rights today.
Senator TALMADGE. Essentially, this rule was adopted in 1917. I don't believe there was much agitation for giving the Attorney General inquisitorial powers at that time.
Senator Javits. Is there anything in the Constitution about free and unlimited debate in the Senate?
Mr. KETCHUM. In the Constitution of the United States ?
Senator Javits. As a matter of fact, isn't it true that when the Senate was first organized, debate could be shut off by a majority?
Mr. KETCHUM. Yes, sir; I assume until there was a rule, a cloture rule, unlimited debate ruled.
Senator Javits. That was the case from the time of organization until 1806. I am not trying to run a quiz on the questions. That is the historic fact.
Thank you very much.
Senator TALMADGE. Thank you, Mr. Ketchum. We appreciate your statement.