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peoples are not going to judge America by how many new shiny bright Chevrolets that General Motors Corp. turns out. It is very impressive. They are very impressed with our economic statistics. They are very impressed by the condition of our plumbing and the fact that we have a lot of television sets in America, but they are not going to judge us by those standards.
They are going to judge us by how we meet our basic moral problems as they relate to the relationship of man to man in our free society.
I happen to believe that power without morality is power without purpose. And you can't flex your economic muscles and say, “Look how strong we are. Look how wealthy we are. Look how rich we are," and expect them to follow your leadership just because you are materially wealthy.
They are going to ask us about these basic human, moral and spiritual values. And this is where we are in trouble. And this is why we believe civil rights ought to be one of the top priority jobs of American
Now, there is no question about it; we have failed to meet the challenge on the civil rights front primarily because of rule XXII in the United States Senate.
The House of Representatives time after time has passed a civil rights bill.
Senator Javits, you were in the House. You voted for many civil rights bills. A majority of the House did that on a number of occasions. But each time the House of Representatives adopted a civilrights bill, its grave was dug in the United States Senate by the filibuster rulé XXII.
You know, the auto workers are criticized for having had sitdown strikes some 21 years ago in the automotive industry, and we have had a lot of criticism directed at our union and its leadership. Well, we did have sitdown strikes but they were of relatively short duration. I contend, Mr. Chairman, that the United States Senate has been on the longest sitdown strike in the field of civil rights in the history of the world.
Eighty long years this Senate has failed to take action in the civil rights field, and the reason has been that the minority under the rules could always block the will of the majority.
There have been many times,
Senator Javits. Mr. Reuther, would you yield a minute for a correction of fact?
Mr. REUTHER. Sure.
Senator Javits. I think it buttresses rather than hurts the fact you just stated to point out the first civil-rights bill was killed in the Senate by a filibuster in 1922, 35 years ago. That is an actual bill, not just the subject.
Mr. REUTHER. We believe that there have been many occasions when a majority of the United States Senate was prepared to adopt legislation comparable to the legislation which already had been passed in the House by majority vote. But the use of the filibuster technique made possible under rule XXII enabled the minority to thwart the will of the majority.
Now, I think we have got to recognize the fact that the Supreme Court is living in the 20th century. But the United States Senate
in the field of civil rights is still living in the 19th century and it is about time the United States Senate catches up with the march of history and begins to translate its majority will into practical and tangible civil rights legislation.
Rule XXII is the roadblock and rule XXII we believe must be removed; in its place we need to substitute a rule that provides for adequate debate, but at the end of adequate debate, for the ability and the right of the majority to translate its will into specific legislative decision.
Now, I think that everybody who knows anything about the problems of America will have to agree that there is serious and ugly and immoral discrimination taking place in America against minority groups in many phases of our national life.
Minority groups, Negroes in particular, are denied equal educational opportunities for their children and here again the American labor movement shares the point of view with many other people in America that every child created in the image of God has the right to that kind of educational opportunity that will enable that child to grow intellectually, and culturally, and spiritually, limited not by a discriminatory educational system but given in the right of each child to grow as God gave it that capacity to grow, limited by no arbitrary decision by man.
Yet millions of Americans are being denied that educational opportunity. They are denied equal citizenship rights. They are denied equal job opportunities. They are denied many other things that every American citizen, regardless of race or creed or color, is entitled to; entitled to in terms of the Constitution and the laws of man, entitled to it in terms of the spiritual laws of God, and yet they are being denied these equal rights.
Now, you don't have to do very intensive research to get plenty of data. You can just dig through the reports of Congress. Here is a report of the Subcommittee on Labor and Public Welfare, the United States Senate, in 1952, the hearings. Just one little paragraph I would like to read on page 18 which indicates in a limited way the impact of these discriminatory policies upon Negroes in American life as it relates to their job opportunities.
Everyone knows we have fought hard in our union to give every American the right to a job based upon his qualifications. We think you should measure a person who applies for a job on whether he is able to do that job, whether he is able to make a contribution in earning not only a living for his family but a contribution to the economic well-being of our whole free society, and whether he can do the job or can't ought to be the basis for the decision, not the color of his skin or the church he belongs to.
But we know that Negroes and Jews and members of other minority groups in America are denied their equal job opportunities based upon the color of their skins or based upon their religious faith, and we think that is wrong. We think it is immoral. And here is this quote from this report. It deals with work-life expectancy:
A study of the length of working life for men shows that under 1940 conditions, the average life expectancy for nonwhite workers, age 20, was about 8 years less than that for white workers of the same age.
Now, the impact upon nonwhite workers based upon this study, using data of 1940—and that is not ancient history-meant that a
nonwhite worker because he was denied justice, because he was denied what every human being is entitled to because he is a human being, regardless of his color or his creed, a nonwhite worker lived 8 years less on the average.
I say America cannot live with its own conscience and it is unworthy of leading the free world as long as it is guilty of that kind of immorality of man against man. That is why we feel strongly about this, because we think that this is a matter of justice. It is a matter of morality. And we think America cannot lead the free world in the struggle against the immorality of Communist tyranny unless we get the right symbols on our world banners, and rule XXII is the road block.
But rule XXII not only has an impact upon civil-rights legislation. It has an impact upon the broad legislative problem.
Senator Anderson put it very ably back on January 18, 1954. I want to say that Senator Anderson made a great contribution to American democracy when he on several occasions assumed the major leadership for leading the fight in the struggle to abolish rule XXII and to substitute in its place majority rule in the procedures of the United States Senate.
On January 18, 1954, Senator Anderson in discussing the impact of rule XXII upon the broad legislative processes had the following to say, and I quote:
However infrequently the hammer on the filibuster gun is drawn back and cocked, this veto power of the minority over the will of the majority is, as all of us well know, a factor never overlooked in legislative drafting, appropriations, strategy, and tactics in the Senate of the United States.
In other words, when you sit down to draft a bill, you have got a pistol against your head. You have got always to think about the filibuster, about the possibility of a minority blocking the will of the majority. When you discuss and give consideration to any legislative matter, there is this threat that is there ever present and, therefore, it is taken into recognition; it goes into the formulation of the bill, the strategy, and the whole procedure related to getting that bill enacted into the laws of this country. And I say that this is wrong.
Now, if anyone were saying, well, the majority ought to just be able to walk in Monday morning and arbitrarily impose its will upon the minority, and deny the minority the right to debate, the right of free expression, then that would be wrong. But no one has ever proposed that we have a set of rules in the United States Senate or in the House of Representatives that will not facilitate free debate. But, having facilitated full and free debate, there has to be an end to debate, and a beginning of action. And this is what rule XXII does not permit. It empowers the minority, not to enlighten, not to shed more facts upon the issues before the Congress, not to facilitate a more rational, intelligent decision, but to engage in unlimited debate for the sole purpose of obstructing democratic rule. That is immoral, that is undemocratic. That is un-American. And this is precisely what rule XXII has done.
The Senate has made progress in the fight to abolish rule XXII but we haven't quite made enough progress. We recognize that, once the rules of the Senate are nailed down, it is very difficult to try to
bring about a change in those rules during any session of the Senate. We believe that the best hope of changing the rules is on the day the new Congress is organized, when, according to the Constitution, based upon the authority of the documents we have brought together, 49 Senators have the constitutional right and responsibility for the establishment of rules of procedure for that term of the United States Senate. That is the day the simplest procedure is possible in bringing about corrective steps in abolishing rule XXII.
But, despite the difficulties of trying to get relief during the current session, we nevertheless urge that effort be made and we support Senate Resolution 17, introduced by Senator Paul Douglas, of Illinois, Senator Ives, of New York, and others.
What does this resolution provide? I have a copy here. It provides that after 15 days of unlimited debate that a majority can close debate.
Now, I think that any reasonable person would agree that 15 days of full and continuous debate—the number of hours is a matter for the Senate to decide—that that is not an attempt to restrict unduly the right of full and free debate. After 15 days—not on the 10th day, not on the 14th day, but only after 15 days of full debate, can the majority decide to close debates so that it can act.
This resolution also would strike out section 3 of rule XXII which unconstitutionally would attempt to bind all future Senate bodies by the rules of the past. This is unconstitutional for the simple reason that if this is constitutional, if the 81st Congress of the United States Senate can pass a rule that goes into eternity, then a man elected to the United States Senate in 1958 is a second-class Senator because he is denied his full constitutional prerogative by the previous action of the United States Senate before he was elected and came to the Senate.
I maintain that every Senator elected at any election from any State in the Union has precisely the same constitutional rights and privileges and prerogatives when he is sworn into the United States Senate as any other Senator throughout the history of this body.
Senator TALMADGE. Would you yield at that point? Could not the same argument be made about any law adopted by any Congress or even about the Constitution of the United States itself—that is, that it ought not to be binding because we were not living at the time it was passed?
Mr. REUTHER. But you can repeal laws and you can amend the Constitution according to due process. The Constitution provides for rules of procedure. The Constitution is a living document.
Senator TALMADGE. So do the Senate rules. They provide for changes under the same conditions.
Senator JAVITS. Would you yield at this point? They do, but don't they also provide for absolutely unlimited debate in respect of such a rule change if this part 3 of rule XXII stands, even more opportunity for a filibuster than an ordinary debate which can be closed by 64. Isn't that what you are really talking about? Practically, it is impossible.
Mr. REUTHER. As a practical matter, what do you do? You build into rule XXII in section 3 a super filibuster, so that you practically have no relief in terms of breaking the filibusters and bringing about a corrective rule.
I maintain that on the first day of every new Congress, on the first day, when the Senate is being organized and new people who have been elected are being sworn in, on that day the Senate starts from scratch and it can do anything it wants by majority decision; 49 Senators can act.
Senator TALMADGE. Would you yield at that point? Why do you think the framers of the Constitution provided for one-third of the Senators to be elected every 2 years, divided them into classes and gave them a 6-year term if they did not mean for the Senate to be a continuing body?
Mr. REUTHER. Because the Founding Fathers in their wisdom were trying to find a workable compromise and balance between direct representation and proportional representation which we have in the House of Representatives based upon population and the fact that we had a problem of how we could put together the various States of the Union in a common Union. And, therefore, they worked out 2 legislative bodies, 1 the House of Representatives, based upon direct representation, proportional representation based upon people, and the other type of representation in the Senate based upon the fact that we had States who were binding together to form a Union.
Now, this was the compromise. It was quite different than the British structure. The House of Lords in Great Britain has really no legislative function, while the United States Senate has an equal legislative function. So they were bringing about a compromise, and in the second body, unrelated to proportional representation, they decided that there they would have a rotating system but this does not change the fact that the Founding Fathers in the Constitution, and the documents are there to prove this contention, provided that the Senate of each new Congress when it organized, had the right, by majority decision, to establish its own rules of procedure. Otherwise, the original Senate would have written a set of rules for eternity.
Senator TALMADGE. Now, you say the Constitution of the United States grants the Senate the right to make its own rules. You agree to that?
Mr. REUTHER. I do.
Senator TALMADGE. So do I. And the Senate has written its rules under those provisions, therefore, is it not a fact that under that authority the Senate can write any rules it may see fit?
Mr. REUTHER. It can, sure. We are not challenging that. By majority decision on the first day of the new Congress, on the day the Senate is organized it has the right to write any set of rules it wants and if 49 Senators want to write a rule that is undemocratic, they have that privilege. But 49 Senators have the right to write majority rules, too.
Senator TALMADGE. Would you yield at that point? Has the Senate not always held itself to be a continuing body, from the time of its founding up to the present time?
Mr. REUTHER. That is part of American folklore. It has nothing to do with the American Constitution.
Senator TALMADGE. Would it not be pretty late for the Senate to decide after 165 years that it is not a continuing body?
Mr. REUTHER." Senator Talmadge, it is never too late to do the thing that is right morally.