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it, and should not take any step that will tend to cut off free debate any more than is now provided in rule 22.
Thank you very much. Senator TALMADGE. Thank you very much, Senator Thurmond. We are happy to have you with us and we would be delighted to have you sit in at any time you desire.
Any questions, Senator?
Senator Javits. Senator Thurmond, would you mind answering a few questions, and again I ask would you be more comfortable seated?
Senator THURMOND. That is all right. Go right ahead.
Senator Javits. Senator, I notice in your State, South Carolina, that debate may be limited by two-thirds of the senate. That is rule 14 of your State senate rules.
Now, is that two-thirds present and voting or two-thirds of the constitutional senate of the State of South Carolina?
Senator THURMOND. My recollection is it is two-thirds of the entire senate.
Senator Javits. But you are not positive?
I was a member of the State senate for 5 years in South Carolina, and I don't think-although we had extended debate on numerous occasions—there was ever an effort made, or not a successful effort as I recollect, to limit debate and take a senator off his feet on the floor.
Senator Javits. Now, I notice also that your senate has a rule that no senator may speak more than 2 hours in any one legislative day on any one bill or resolution, so that really that is a pretty much tighter limitation than anything we are talking about under any of these resolutions—a limitation of 2 hours?
Senator THURMOND. But the legislative day down there probably is a little different from the legislative day here. Up here the legislative day goes from one day to the next and continues ad infinitum.
Senator TALMADGE. Will the Senator yield for a question?
Senator TALMADGE. Don't you think that the rules of procedure in debate ought to be different between the legislative body of a sovereign State and the United States Senate which is composed of representatives of 48 sovereign States?
Senator THURMOND. I just started to add to the question propounded by the distinguished Senator from New York that I think of all places that there should be free debate or freer debate than anywhere else is in the United State Senate. This is known as the greatest deliberative body in the world. If we change this rule any more and weaken the present rule 22, it can not longer be known as the greatest deliberative body in the world.
I think it is because of free debate and the opportunity of Senators to express themselves and to bring to the attention of the people of this Nation and of the world—and that is what a Senator here has the right to do—that has enabled our country to become the greatest Nation in the world.
I think we have been able to maintain our type of government, our Republic, our type of Republic, have brought about more democracy here because of that, and have made greater strides in protecting the rights of individuals than in any other country.
We have more liberty and we have more individual freedom here. Without this free debate, I don't think that would be possible.
And I don't think that simply because this administration or any other administration in the past or the future wants to get a bill through is any excuse for changing a longstanding rule that has meant so much to this Nation and the people of this Nation in maintaining our freedoms.
Senator Javits. Would the Senator mind just commenting upon the fact that this longstanding rule of which the Senator speaks has only been in effect for 8 years?
That in the years from 1917 to 1949 it took only two-thirds of the Senators present and voting to close debate.
Now would the Senator have any comment upon that in terms of his reference to a long-standing rule?
Senator THURMOND. Prior to that time I don't believe that rule applied, did it?
Senator Javits. Prior to that time there was no rule since 1806, from 1806 to 1917.
Senator THURMOND. In other words it was unlimited from that period up until
Senator Javits. Until 1917.
Then evidently there was some movement of some group that wanted to pass a bill and they felt the only way they could do it would be to change the rules.
I think it was a mistake. I think it would be a mistake now if we changed the rules further. I realize there are certain Senators and certain Members of Congress and certain persons in the executive branch of the Government and maybe in the judicial branch who want certain legislation passed, who even want it passed now, and they want it passed so badly that they are willing to take a step which I believe later they may regret.
I personally feel it would be a terrible mistake.
Senator Javits. Senator, do you feel as a practical matter and I might point out that before 1806 there was a majority rule for closing debate, but aside from that, do you feel-that we should have no limitation whatever on debate; in other words that debate could go on and on and on as long as men's physical endurance would stand it?
Senator THURMOND. I would certainly rather have unlimited debate than to have the present rule weakened any more than it is now. Under the present rule two-thirds of the Senate, which is the same number required to pass a constitutional amendment, two-thirds of the Senate can end debate, and before you are going to take a Senator off the floor, a man who represents a sovereign State and is speaking for the people of his State, and speaking to the people of the Nation and the world, it does seem that a minimum would be two-thirds of all the Members of the United States Senate; that is, 64 in number.
Senator Javits. Senator, I believe, if I may just interject a question of fact, that under article V of the Constitution two-thirds of those present and voting in either House may suggest a constitutional amendment.
I don't know of any provision that requires a constitutional majority of two-thirds except the Senate cloture rule, and if the Senator knows of any I would deeply appreciate his pointing it out.
Senator THURMOND. Even if the constitutional amendment did not require but two-thirds of those present and voting, I think before you would take a Senator off his feet on the floor of the Senate who is representing a sovereign State, that there ought to be at least twothirds of the Senators who would demand that that be done.
You are sent here to represent the great State of New York, the people of New York, and you have a right to be beard, and I don't believe a majority of the Senators or two-thirds of those present ought to be sufficient to stop you from presenting your views.
I don't suppose you would want to answer à question I would ask, would you?
Senator Javits. I will be glad to. The Senator is a sovereign Senator.
Senator THURMOND. I was just wondering if the Senator from New York is proposing a change in this rule thinking it will help him get the civil rights bill passed.
Senator Javits. I will be very glad to answer that question. It is my opinion, Senator Thurmond, that no civil rights bill is likely to pass unless there is some effort to deal with rule 22, and I was going to ask you—and I have answered your question—I was going to ask you whether you thought any civil rights bill could pass, and if so, without some change in rule 22?
Senator THURMOND. Well, if two-thirds of the Senators feel it is important enough to put cloture on, of course it would pass, or any other bill if it came up would pass.
But that is the most drastic thing you can do.
I think in the greatest deliberative body in the world, to say to a Senator you have got to sit down and that is what the Senator would be doing if cloture is applied
Senator TALMADGE. Would the Senator yield for a question?
Senator TALMADGE. Would you agree with me that our National Government is a government of limited or delegated powers?
Senator THURMOND. I certainly do, and in 1787 when the deputies went to Philadelphia to write the Constitution, there were 12 States represented there. The 13th State, Rhode Island, was in the bands of the radicals and was not represented. Those deputies from those 12 States wrote this Constitution which formed the Union upon its ratification.
We had States before we had a Federal Union, and I would like for this committee not to forget that it was the States that made the Union and gave the Union its rights and powers. It was not the Union that gave the States their powers.
The Bill of Rights, which was adopted in 1789, 2 years later, formed a very essential part of this Constitution. This Constitution with the Bill of Rights provides that the Federal Government has only those powers which are specifically delegated to it by the States in the Constitution.
In other words, the Federal Government is a government of limited powers. It can only do those things where it has specific authority to do in the Constitution, and the States gave the Federal Government that power when the Constitution was written.
A State legislature or a State can take any action it pleases so long as it does not interfere with the Constitution. It is just the reverse. The Congress can do only those things where it has specific power under the Constitution to do. A State legislature can enact matters on any subject so long as it does not run crosswise to the Constitution.
Senator TALMADGE. Will you yield at that point, Senator?
Senator TALMADGE. Do you think for that reason that any socalled cloture or gag rule in the United States Senate ought to be much more liberal than any cloture or gag rule in any legislature of any sovereign State?
Senator THURMOND. Why I think for that and other reasons too that of all places that the United States Senate should be the last place to limit debate. This body, as I said, has been known throughout the world as the greatest deliberative body of any government that has ever been founded by man.
We have the only government of this type that exists today, this tripartite system of government. Each is supposed to be a check and a balance on the other.
No other country has this type of government, and it is simply because our forefathers came here trying to form a government to get rid of tyranny, and it seems that every year that passes we are concentrating more and more power in the Central Government, which in the end, if we continue, is going to lead us right back to the type of government that our forefathers were trying to get away from, because where you have strong power in a central government, you have eventually a dictatorship, and we don't want that to happen here.
Senator Javits. Senator Thurmond, you would agree, however, that the Senate should have capability for acting, and that no right of debate should prevent the Senate from acting, and what do you say to the proposition that the Senate has been prevented from acting on a major question, the question of civil rights, by this filibuster rule?
Senator THURMOND. I think the Senate should have the right to act, but I think before you take a Senator off of his feet who is representing a State, and the States made the Union or there would not be any Union, gave it its powers which it holds, that at least two-thirds of the Senators, 64 Senators should be required.
Otherwise I don't think a Senator should be required to stop his debate on the floor of the Senate.
Senator Javits. Senator, may I point out that you can expel a Senator let alone take him off his feet with two-thirds of those present and voting under article I, section 5 of the Constitution.
Now article 22 is not constitutional. It is a rule of our own body. Why should it be any tighter than the majority required to expel a Senator?
Senator THURMOND. You have a successor if you take him off. The State would send another one here. But still principles are greater than individuals. An individual can go out of the picture, but the principle is the thing I think we have got to look to.
I think the principle of free debate is something that should not be hampered.
Senator Javits. Now the Senator does not believe-and this is my last question, I did not want to detain the Senator very long-the
Senator does not believe therefore that 15 days debate plus 96 hours, which would be the situation under the so-called Douglas resolution, is adequate debate upon a subject, is that correct?
Senator THURMOND. I would not say that it is on some subjects. On some subjects which would vitally affect the rights of the individuals of this country, which vitally concern the freedom of the individual, which destroys powers that are given to us under our Constitution, it seems to me that 15 days is not enough, and that 30 days might not be enough. There are times when people, in order to accomplish a certain motive or purpose, are willing to take steps that later they will drastically regret, simply to attain their immediate goal, and it may take indoctrination of the country, it may take information to go to the citizens of the Nation to inform them of what is being done, and sometimes you can't do it in a few hours or a few days, and maybe 15 days would not be sufficient.
Senator Javits. Would the Senator favor any rule by which a constitutional majority of the Senate could make a Senator stop debating when he was just engaging in a pretense of debate and had fully explored the subject in the view of that majority?
Senator THURMOND. I think that becomes a matter of opinion as to whether he is engaging in a pretense.
That is putting one Senator's opinion against another.
I think it would be a great mistake to change the rule that would weaken rule 22, that it would be a great mistake to take any step that would weaken rule 22 that requires two-thirds of the Members of the Senate to take a Senator off of his feet and say to him, “You can't talk any longer although you are a Senator of a sovereign State of this Nation."
Senator JAVITS. As a practical matter, Senator Thurmond, it is one of degree, isn't it? You have now got two-thirds of the constitutional membership, so anything less than that is a question of degree.
The principle is settled, wouldn't that be so?
Senator Javits. I said, Senator Thurmond, just by way of a summary, wouldn't you agree that we are discussing now a matter of degree, no longer of principle?
So long as you can have any cloture at all, the question of how many can enforce it becomes one of degree, not of principle, would you agree with that?
Senator THURMOND. Well, it is a form of degree in a way, but I think if you make it any less of a degree than it is now it will be a terrible mistake that you even the great Senator from the State of New York-would regret for years to come.
Senator Javits. You are very kind, Senator Thurmond, and I feel the same way about you as a Senator from your great State.
Senator TALMADGE. Thank you very much, Senator.
We will be glad to have you with us at any sessions you care to attend.
Senator THURMOND. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, for your courtesy.
Senator TÅLMADGE. Are there any other Senators who wish to be heard either personally or by statement?
In that connection I might say that several Senators have told me of their desire to be present and testify. They stated they could not