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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 TALMADGE. 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 come on such short notice. I do have a letter from the junior Senator from Virginia, Hon. A. Willis Robertson, that I ask permission to insert in the record.
(The statement of Senator Robertson is as follows:) STATEMENT OF Hon. A. Willis ROBERTSON, A UNITED STATES Senator FROM
THE STATE OF VIRGINIA
UNITED STATES SENATE,
June 15, 1957.
United States Senate, Washington, D. C. DEAR COLLEAGUES: Thank you for your letter of the 14th in which you offer to me the privilege of appearing before your special subcommittee of the Committee on Rules and Administration next Monday to make a statement, if I am so inclined, concerning proposals to change rule 22 of the Standing Rules of the Senate.
I regret that an important meeting of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Public Works on Monday will prevent me from appearing before your committee. All that I would like for your record to show is that, in my opinion, there is no good and sufficient reason to change rule 22. Since neither of you were Members of the Congress when the agitation first started in the Senate for changing rule 22, I wish to remind you the change was sponsored by those who were sponsoring so-called civil rights bills and who believed that prompter action could be secured in the Senate if debate on any bill could be limited by a simple majority of those present and voting. But such a proposal overlooks the rights which minorities should have, as explained by Thomas Jefferson who prepared the first Senate manual, as well as the fact that the proponents of the change have been unable to show that the right of extended debate given to minorities under rule 22, has ever in the long run prevented the passage of any legislation which had the support of a clear majority of the American people. With best wishes, I am, Sincerely yours,
A. Willis ROBERTSON. Senator TALMADGE. I have a letter from Senator Olin D. Johnston of South Carolina which will be inserted in the record immediately after the other Senators' statements.
(The statement of Senator Johnston is as follows:)
STATEMENT OF HON. OLIN D. JOHNSTON, A UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM THE
STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
UNITED STATES SENATE,
June 17, 1957.
Senate Office Building, Washington, D. C. DEAR HERMAN: This morning you are holding a special hearing on proposed changes in Senate rule XXII (cloture rule) to hear from members of the Senate. Unfortunately I will be tied up in the Senate Judiciary Committee on civil rights legislation which I feel is of great importance to all of us, and therefore it is impossible for me to attend your committee hearing as much as I would like to do so.
For purposes of brevity may I refer you to volume 94, part 4 (1948), pages 5219–5239 and 5283–5294, and volume 95, part II (1949), pages 2490-2724, of the Congressional Record. In this you will find prolonged debate regarding a similar proposal for changing this rule in the Senate back in 1948, at which time I opposed this change at length, as did a majority of the Senate. In my opinion we were most fortunate in preserving this rule of unlimited debate.
Nowhere else in the entire world is there a deliberative body dealing with such important affairs as our security, peace for future generations, atomic power, etc., wherein the members representing their constituents have totally free and unlimited debate. In my opinion it would be a terrible blow to the free world's morale for us to censure ourselves with proposals now before the Senate.
During World War I the late Senator Bob LaFollette of Wisconsin, one of the great liberals and progressives of his age, said the following when an attempt was made to impose cloture in the Senate at that time:
“I realize how the hysteria of the moment may be driving Senators to acquiesce here in this procedure which at another time they would resist with all their force. But so far as I am concerned I will never by my voice or vote consent to a rule which will put an end to freedom of debate in the Senate. The adoption of this rule marks a decline in the influence of the Senate in the Government. I know that the majority are determined. I believe that a majority of that majority are in this matter yielding their judgments, and that the time will come when the men who are now clamoring for this change and who by their votes are imposing cloture upon the Senate will see that rule invoked to deprive them and their States of what they deem their rights. I cannot prevent the adoption of this rule, so I am content at this time to protest and vote against it."
I believe the foregoing words are just as timely and stand up just as well today as they did then.
In January of this year, when we were debating whether or not the Senate was a continuing body, I stated that the Senate of the United States is the last citadel of man's freedom. This right of free discussion affords me and every other Member of the Senate the opportunity to fight in defense of some fundamental principle or to prevent the destruction of some basic right. Without such a rule of unlimited debate in the United States Senate, we would all become the prey of hysteria and minority rights could exist only in theory and not in fact. It is ironic that those who favor abolishing unlimited and unrestricted debate exercise such a right more freely and more often than do a great deal of us who sometimes are referred to as being reactionary or conservative for opposing changes in rule XXII.
I sincerely hope that your committee will recommend no such change and will put into your report the basic principles upon which this rule was founded and why it should remain untampered in ages to come and will perhaps end forever recurrence of attacks upon it.
If I may be of any further assistance to your committee, please do not hesitate to call upon me, and may I ask you to include this letter a part of your official report. With kind regards, I am Sincerely yours,
OLIN D. JOHNSTON. Senator TALMADGE. I also have a statement from a former Vice President of the United States which is a right interesting one.
On May 10 I wrote former Vice President John Nance Garner. In keeping with his well-known ability for getting right to the point he penciled at the bottom of the letter: DEAR SENATOR TALMADGE: I favor free and unlimited debate in the Senate. Sincerely,
JOHN N. GARNER. May 15, 1957. I ask unanimous consent to insert that in the record.
(The letter to Mr. Garner and his reply may be found in the appendix as part of exhibit 3, p. 360.)
Senator TALMADGE. Are there any more statements of Senators? Do you have any insertions at this time?
Senator JAVITS. Mr. Chairman, I was just going to make the suggestion that we confine the opportunity to our colleagues to testify to one succeeding hearing, inviting those who can't appear to submit written statements so we can get on with the other witnesses who desire to be heard.
I think having extended the opportunity for two hearings, I know our colleagues will all have a chance to speak to this on the floor, and I would say this to the Senator:
If any others of our colleagues desire to be heard after we have concluded that phase of the hearings, which I suggest be Friday, why
we will of course hear them, but I thought that we would begin on Monday next, that is a week from today, to hear witnesses other than Senators.
I make that suggestion.
Senator TALMADGE. With the proviso that any Senator may be heard at any time.
Senator JAVITS. Thereafter, exactly.
Senator TALMADGE. I certainly would not want to close the door to Members of the Senate wishing to testify as to a rule they will be operating under, and I know there is considerable interest in the Senate, both in support of one or the other of these amendments as well as in opposition thereto.
In fact, several have personally told me they want to be heard. I would certainly be very strongly in favor of giving them that opportunity.
Now, are there any witnesses present who desire to testify?
Senator JAVITS. Mr. Chairman, I had one other suggestion and that is the next week we have three hearings, and I would suggest Monday, Tuesday, and Friday, Wednesday being a Rules Committee day,
Senator TALMADGE. There is no objection on my part at all. I think we ought to bear this in mind: Last week for the first time we started working night and day in the Senate. It is likely that the pace is going to get even faster than that in the future, and at our hearings it sometimes may be absolutely impossible for you, me, or any other Senator to be present to hold tħese hearings. For that reason I think the situation is going to have to remain quite flexible for the time being.
I think we will have to hold hearings whenever we can do so, and I for one would share the Senator's view.
I would be perfectly willing to attend hearings at any time that my duties in the Senate will permit.
Is Mr. Harold L. Putnam here?
He is executive secretary of the National Society of Sons of the American Revolution.
If he is not here or any other witnesses who desire to be heard personally, I have several statements that I would like to insert in the record at this time.
A letter from Mrs. Edgar S. Block, secretary of the American Flag Association of the United States.
Letter from J. D. Henderson, of the American Association of Small Business.
Letter from Mark Fakkema, educational director of the National Association of Christian Schools.
Letter from H. B. Franklin and R. M. Dickinson, of the American Legion, Sauls-Bridges Post, No. 13, Tallahassee, Fla.
Letter from Sherman A. Patterson, general manager of the Christian Citizens Crusade, Inc.
Letter from Willis Carto, executive director of Liberty and Property, San Francisco, Calif.
Letter from W. R. Beatty, of Citizens United, Inc., Los Angeles, Calif.
Letter from Leslie E. Gehres, of the San Diego Constitutional Foundation.
Letter from Walter S. Steele, editor and manager of the National Republic.