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write their own rules of procedure was an idea that was expressed by Senator Thomas Walsh, of Montana, many years ago, before UAW was ever conceived, when I was still in knee breeches, so that, while we have refined this idea, perhaps did more basic constitutional research than any other group, we did not originate the idea. It was originated and certainly presented much before we had come up with the idea.
Now, the positions that I wish to present to you this morning are not a matter of my personal attitude. They happen to be the position of the membership of my union, adopted in convention. I would like to put in the record, if I might, a copy of the resolution adopted between the period of April 7 and 12, 1957, by the more than 3,000 delegates participating in the last constitutional convention of the UAW.
Senator TALMADGE. Without objection, it is so ordered. (The relevant portion of the resolution referred to is as follows:) As an essential preliminary to the enactment of civil rights legislation, * * * we urge that the rules be so amended that the will of the Congress may not be stultified by a recalcitrant minority. Rule XXII should be changed to permit a majority of Senators present and voting to limit and close debate.
Mr. REUTHER. Now, at this convention, Mr. Chairman, we discussed many problems and I think the record of our convention will show that there was considerable debate and discussion as it related to the question of rule XXII, as it related to the broad question of civil rights and civil liberties, and after this discussion, this resolution was adopted by the unanimous action of the more than 3,000 delegates.
Similar action was taken by the last constitutional convention of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations representing roughly 15 million organized workers throughout America. They, too, are on record in opposition to rule XXII. They are in favor of replacing minority rule with majority rule in the United States Senate.
Now, it seems to me that we ought to discuss this question of majority rule and not get confused about such questions as: Is the majority attempting to deny the minority the right to full and democratic expression? This is not involved here. I would be unalterably opposed to any efforts to try to take away the right of full and free debate in the Halls of Congress, in any other aspect of American life.
But I think we need to understand clearly that debate in itself is not the end product of the democratic processes, that debate is a means to an end and that the end product must be democratic legislative action, and when debate is used unlimited in an effort to block the right of the majority to act, then that is an abuse of the democratic privilege of full debate.
In our own organization we have what we think to be one of the most democratic organizations in America. We enable the minority to debate every issue. Our rules of procedure provide that if there is a minority and majority report on any matter coming before the convention, there is equal time allocated to both the minority and the majority points of view and the proceedings of our last convention demonstrate very clearly that time after time, as chairman of that convention, I with great effort tried to find people who may have shared a minority point of view in order to provide them the opportunity of taking the floor and expressing their minority point of view.
But when the minority and the majority both have exercised the right of full and free debate, it is then the moral responsibility for the majority to act, because debate without action is debate without purpose.
Now, what is the purpose of free debate? The purpose of free debate between free men, whether it be in the halls of the United States Senate, whether it be in a trade-union congress, whether it be in any cther organization of free men, the purpose of debate is to explore the facts. It is to sharpen people's point of view so that greater understanding of the problem can reflect itself in a more rational and intelligent decision. That is the purpose of free and unlimited debate.
The purpose of free and unlimited debate is to expedite the democratic processes, to make them more responsible, to make them more intelligent; it is not the purpose of free debate to block the will of the majority from translating its will into practical legislative action and legislative decision.
And so we believe-and we believe this sincerely, not as trade unionists, but as just free men and women who live in this great and wonderful democratic country of America—that when the abuse of unlimited debate by a minority is willfully and consciously and deliberately used as a technique by which to block the will and the ability of the majority to act, through the technique of a filibuster, that such an abuse of the unlimited right to debate is undemocratic, is unAmerican, and is essentially immoral; when one small group of people in a free society abuse the right to go on talking forever, not because they want to try to convince the other fellow that the merits of their position are superior to the merits of the other fellow's position, not because they want to put on the record essential facts upon which the decision ultimately should be made, but when the right of unlimited debate is abused merely as a technique to prevent the majority from acting, then that is an abuse of the democratic privilege and should not be tolerated. It should not be tolerated in our opinion, Mr. Chairman, because it violates the essential elements of what constitutes rational and sensible procedures that ought to govern the conduct of anyone participating within the framework of a free society, whether it be in the United States Senate or any place else.
That is why we believe that rule XXII betrays the fundamental democratic principles of majority rule. And I think that this question of majority rule is perhaps more important today than at any other period of American history.
We are in a life and death struggle with the forces, the ugly, evil, immoral forces of Communist tyranny. This means that America takes on, because we are the custodian of world freedom, tremendous new and challenging responsibilities. We can meet those responsibilities, we can meet the threat of Communist tyranny and we can win out, but we can do so only if the American Government through the legislative processes in the Senate and in the House of Representatives is sufficiently flexible in terms of majority rule to meet this challenge as the changing world situation thrusts this responsibility upon us as the strongest of the free nations of the world.
It is rather shocking that in 1957, at a time when this challenge is greater than ever before, we are still debating whether or not ma
jority rule ought to prevail in the United States Senate. It seems to me that this is so simple, so basic, so fundamental a democratic truth that there should be no argument about the fact that the rules of the United States Senate ought to provide for free debate, debate that will facilitate the free exchange of ideas in the market place of the ideas, on the floor of the Senate, but after everyone has had the privilege of expressing their point of view and sharpening the issue, of putting the facts upon the record, then the minority having had that opportunity should not be permitted under the rules to block the majority from translating its will into legislative decision and legislative action.
And I think we need to keep in mind that the essential difference between a free society and a Communist society or some other form of totalitarian society is the fact that in a free society, government rests upon the will of the majority, and in a totalitarian society, regardless of what the symbols may be, authority is on a basis unrelated to the will of the majority. You cannot ignore that.
When you get a situation where the majority is unable to translate its will into effective action, then you negate the basic principle around which a free society has been organized. And that is what we think is involved here.
Now, this question of majority rule is not something new. If you go back into the early papers of Hamilton and the other people who were writing and developing and discussing their concepts of how our free society should be organized in the period when the Constitution was taking form, you will find that all of these papers—and this is precisely what we outline in great detail in this document that we submitted in 1951—you will find that there are no documents which will support the contention that the founding fathers thought a minority could block, should be able to block, the will of the majority.
There were five specific areas in which the founding fathers made specific exceptions. In every other case they expected the majority to make a decision, excepting in the case of where they provided for a two-thirds vote.
First, they provided that in the event of an effort to impeach, it required a two-thirds vote. That specifically is set forth in the Constitution.
With respect to the power of expulsion of a Member of Congress, that, too, is specifically set forth requiring more than a majority, a two-thirds majority.
Thirdly, the power of Congress to override a veto which maintaining this delicate balance between the executive, the legislative, and the judicial branches of Government which is the cornerstone of our democratic governmental structure. There, too, they said it required a two-thirds vote to override a veto.
Fourthly, there is the two-thirds vote required with respect to senatorial ratification of international treaties.
And fifthly, with respect to the initiation by Congress of proposals to amend the Constitution, it requires a two-thirds vote.
In all other actions it requires a simple majority, and if the founding fathers had intended that it required more than a simple majority for things other than these five specific matters outlined, then they
would have provided specifically in the Constitution for additional exceptions.
As a matter of fact, in the last days of the Continental Congress when they were beginning to bring together the framework of our Constitution, there were 2 other efforts made to include 2 other specific areas of constitutional authority in this list of exceptions.
There was an effort made to limit the national authority with respect to interstate and international commerce. That failed, and there was a further effort made to limit the national authority with respect to navigation. That also failed.
And the Founding Fathers did not include these two additional exceptions in the five exceptions which are set forth in the Constitution.
Now, the meaning of the Constitution is clear. It means that, with the exception of these five specific matters as set forth in the Constitution, it is the intent of the Constitution to provide for majority rule. And no student of the Constitution of these United States can challenge the conclusion that the Founding Fathers, with the exception of these five issues set forth, intended that majority rule shall prevail, and rule XXII negates and undermines and destroys that basic concept of majority rule.
Now, we believe that majority rule is not only constitutionally proper. We think it is morally right because you cannot have a situation where a minority can abuse its rights and its privileges in orderto block the will of the majority.
Now, we all know that rule XXII has had its greatest impact in the field of legislative responsibility as it relates to the rights of minority groups in the broad field of civil rights and in the broad field of civil liberties. Everyone who has studied rule XXII has recognized the fact that rule XXII has been the gravedigger of civil rights legislation.
But I think we need to understand that it goes beyond that.
We are motivated in our desire to bring about the abolition of ruleXXII and the establishment of majority rule in the procedures of the United States Senate because of civil rights and because of many other legislative problems. But I would like to take a moment to stress the importance of civil rights.
I think that there is no other aspect of American life in which there is such a serious moral gap between American democracy's noble promises and its ugly practices as we find in the field of civil rights.
The American labor movement has supported efforts to get civil rights legislation, first, because we think it is a matter of simple justice and a matter of simple human decency. We happen to believe that every person in the world, regardless of race or creed or color, is created in the image of God, and we believe that every man should be given the same rights and same privileges and that we ought to write the laws of our land in such a way that the laws of God can operate.
When we have laws on the statute books of America that challenge the concept that every citizen is made in the image of God, then we are immoral. We maintain that civil rights are a matter of human decency and a matter of simple justice in man's relationship to man.
Secondly, we also believe that human freedom is essentially an indivisible value. Hitler taught us that when the freedom of the smallest country of the world was being threatened, the freedom of America was in jeopardy.
Human freedom is not something you can have unto yourself. Human freedom is a value you must share with other people if you are to enjoy it yourself, and when Negro Americans and minority groups are denied their full measure of freedom in America, that means that the freedom of everyone is in jeopardy.
And finally, we are for civil rights in America because we think it is a matter of national survival in terms of the struggle between the forces of freedom and the forces of Communist tyranny.
Last year I had an opportunity to be in Asia, in India, in North Africa. I had a chance to talk to tens of thousands of people in big mass meetings in Calcutta, in Bombay, in the big industrial centers all over the world, and I had a chance to visit people in the small mountain villages, trying to help interpret American democracy to these people in the fight against Communist tyranny. And I say to you, Mr. Chairman and the member of your committee, that this moral gap between what American democracy preaches and what it practices in the area of civil rights can be American democracy's Achilles' heel in the struggle between freedom and tyranny because our immorality in this area of civil rights gives the Communists a psychological weapon in the world in the struggle for the hearts and the minds of people which is devastating to our position in those areas of the world where most of the human family lives.
The thing that we need to understand is that civil rights in America are not a purely domestic matter; that civil rights in America are a worldwide issue.
I went up into a little mountain village in northern India, in the foothills of the Himalayas, only 300 people in the village, and I talked about America. I tried to give them an understanding of really what were the motivations of America. What did we really want to do? And I talked about that we wanted to build a world of peace, a world of human brotherhood, a world in which we could harness the tools of economic abundance, and instead of using the know-how of science and technology to forge the weapons of war and destruction, we wanted to fashion the tools of peace so that we could build a better tomorrow in which people could live in peace and friendship and human understanding.
I tried to make them understand that these were the basic human and moral and spiritual values that motivated America. And when I finished, in village after village, in factory after factory, in city after city, they always got around to talking about this moral gap between the noble promises of American democracy and its ugly practices in the field of civil rights.
Why? Because they are dark of skin. Half of the people of the world are dark of skin. And this is the weak link in the chain that binds American democracy to the free world.
When we unconsciously give the Communists this kind of a psychological weapon, we are giving them a weapon that they are not entitled to have in the struggle for the hearts and minds of people all over the world. And I believe that aside from the question of human decency, aside from the question that human freedom is an indivisible value, we ought to recognize that in the struggle against the ugly and immoral forces of Communist tyranny, we cannot lead the free world unless we get the right kind of moral symbols on our banner. Other