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PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO RULE XXII OF THE
STANDING RULES OF THE SENATE
TUESDAY, JULY 9, 1957
UNITED STATES SENATE,
SPECIAL SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met, pursuant to recess, at 10 a. m., in room 155, Senate Office Building, Senator Herman E. Talmadge, chairman of the subcommittee, presiding.
Present: Senators Talmadge and Javits.
Also present: Langdon West, special counsel to the subcommittee; Darrell St. Claire, professional staff member; Robert S. McCain, professional staff member; and Sidney Kelley, Jr., administrative assistant to Senator Javits.
Senator TALMADGE. The subcommittee will come to order.
There are two or more Senators coming to testify this morning and the distinguished Senator from Mississippi, Mr. Stennis, is here to present one of the witnesses.
If you are ready, Senator Stennis, we will proceed and let Mr. Campbell be the first witness.
Senator STENNIS. Well, thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Gentlemen of the committee, I came to hear and I am honored to introduce to this committee, Boyd Campbell, of Jackson, Miss.
Mr. Campbell is a man of very broad experience and, as I just told Senator Javits, is a man filled with unselfish patriotism. He has a great deal of humanity and continual interest in government, has given unsparingly of his time in civic affairs. He has long been active with the Chamber of Commerce of the United States, has had challenging officeholding responsibilities there, with two of those present representing in that group the small-business men.
I am not here to praise him but to hear him, but I am delighted that he could come and would come. The fact that he is here is just evidence of his general interest in all phases of government. I am very happy to present him to you.
Senator TALMADGE. Thank you very much, Senator Stennis. Mr. Campbell, we are very happy to have you with us, and you may proceed at will. STATEMENT OF BOYD CAMPBELL, JACKSON, MISS. (INTRODUCED
BY HON. JOHN STENNIS, A UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI)
Mr. CAMPBELL. Gentlemen, my name is Boyd Campbell. I am a small-business man from Jackson, Miss. I appear before you as an
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN LIBRARIES
individual and not as the representative of any organized group. This is a new experience for me and your willingness to listen to my personal views concerning the issue that is before you enhances my appreciation of my American citizenship.
Since I am neither a parliamentarian nor a political scientist, my comments will necessarily be brief. I am just an average citizen who reads the newspapers, watches television, and listens to the radio and then tries to think things through.
What I have been reading and hearing recently has given me grave concern about trends in government. Without meaning to be presumptuous, I am inclined to believe that there are thousands, probably millions, of other inarticulate and unorganized Americans who feel as I do. They look to Washington with apprehenusion as they witness the obliteration of ancient landmarks and threats to the citadels of freedom which our fathers built.
The delicate balance between the legislative, executive, and judicial departments of government is peculiar to the American system. We have been taught to believe, and we do believe, that it comprises some of our greatest safeguards to liberty under law. Now we are witnessing an imbalance between these functions of government which have served us so well, and we worry about it.
These are times when we are hearing discussions about the conflict between liberty and authority, and we wonder what it all means. We are witnessing a centralization of power in our National Government at the expense of States rights and this, to us, means the erosion of our freedom.
The nationwide revolt against the present level of Federal spending is nothing more or less than the voices of taxpayers who are saying to their Government, “We want to be free to spend a larger share of our earnings as we choose.” Gentlemen, these things trouble us, and that is why I am here.
In a dynamic society like our own, change is inevitable, but changethe kind of change that endures because all men accept it and live with it-does not come suddenly. It is a maturing and a ripening. It cannot be accelerated by statute, edict, or judicial decision. It cannot be accelerated—with deference to the honorable Members of your body who think otherwise—by the modification of Senate rule XXII.
But some things do not change. The eternal verities are constant. The bedrock principles upon which our system has been built do not lend themselves to change without weakening the entire edifice. We should never confuse the foundation with the superstructure.
The dignity of man cannot be protected by penalizing one minority to befriend another. This only creates a chasm of bitterness that no one can cross. It sets neighbor against neighbor, friend against friend, and brother against brother.
Senator TALMADGE. Mr. Campbell, will you excuse me, please. The nomination of Mr. Erle Cocke, Sr., president of the American Bankers Association, is being considered this morning by the Banking and Currency Committee, and as he is one of my constituents, I want to go up and speak a word in his behalf. I do not know how long before I will be back, but I hope to see you again before you get away. Thank you.
Senator Javits. Please proceed.
Mr. CAMPBELL. Thank you, sir.
As best I could, I have informed myself on the history of rule XXII. It appears to reflect a determination on the part of the Senate to increase rather than to diminish the safeguards of the minority. The long history of the rule fails to disclose, in my humble judgment, that a single American citizen has been done a disservice because of unlimited debate by the Members of your honorable body.
Certainly now is no time to be tampering with an institution that has been a safeguard against roughshod majorities. Certainly now is no time to become so concerned with what has been referred to in these hearings as the tyranny of the minority as to disregard the much more dangerous tyranny of the majority.
In the long years in which rule XXII has been in effect, our country has endured its greatest trials, attained its greatest stature, and acquired an unsought and somewhat unwelcome position of world leadership. Surely rule XXII was not a handicap as we made our greatest strides, not only in defending freedom everywhere, but in developing a social accountability for the welfare of all Americans.
To modify rule XXII will weaken the great defenses of the Senate against hysteria and panic and dictatorship. This may seem at the moment far away, but there have been times in our history when all these threatened us, and no man can say when they will reoccur.
The Senate was conceived by Thomas Jefferson as a council, which, with its longer term of 6 years, could see beyond the present and make judgments deliberately.
The institution of unlimited discussion is an instrument of moderation. It gains time to reconsider hasty decisions and to inform the country of the great legislative issues that are before the Con
Surely, if and when an issue becomes so preponderant in importance that our national welfare is jeopardized, there will be 64 Members of the Senate whose judgments and opinions will have been solidified to the extent that they can say, “Let us now vote on the question.” And vote they will.
To modify the rule as is proposed would be tantamount to admitting that no issue could come before the Senate that would be of sufficient importance for two-thirds of your membership to have a meeting of minds, and thus the stature of the United States Senate would be reduced in the appraisal of Americans everywhere who look upon it with such vast trust and confidence.
I have referred to the unease which I believe is in the minds of most Americans about the Washington scene. In the center of that scene is an institution that is close to the hearts of all of us, because it deserves to be. It is the United States Senate. For as long as I can remember—and that is a long time—it has been referred to as the greatest deliberative body in the world.
Gentlemen, I beg of you not to reduce the stature of the Senate by tampering with the rules which have contributed so vastly and for so long to the strength and the general welfare of our great country.
Senator JAVITS. Mr. Campbell, I appreciate your statement very much. I know my colleague does as well.
May I ask you just one question: Have you ever looked into the rules of debate in the Senate of the State of Mississippi? Do you know what they are?
Mr. CAMPBELL. No, sir. I do not, sir.
Senator JAVITS. Now would you feel just as strongly about unlimited debate there as you do in the United States Senate?
I don't want to ask you any tricky questions. I will tell you as a fact that in the State senate of your State debate may be stopped by the use of what is called the previous question. In other words, a majority of those who are present and voting can cut off further debate. Mr. CAMPBELL. Yes, sir.
Senator Javits. In addition, there is quite a time limitation. Your State happens to have one of the tightest in the United States on the amount of time a member may speak without special leave of his body. But I just wonder if you feel the same way about your State body as you do about the United States?
Mr. CAMPBELL. Well, it would have to be with respect to the history of what has gone on there, Senator, and I do not recall that in Mississippi there has been the reduction of debate or failure to have unlimited discussion on matter that was vital to the importance of the State without respect to what the rules are.
Senator JAVITS. Thank you very much, Mr. Campbell. Certainly glad to see you. We appreciate your statement very much.
Senator, thank you very much.
Senator STENNIS. Thank you very much. Appreciate being down here with you.
Senator JAVITS. Senator Sparkman. The next witness is Senator John Sparkman, of Alabama.
Senator, we are very honored to have you appear before us. I know my colleague will be sorry to have missed you, but he had to go and testify before the Banking and Currency Committee, with which you are quite well acquainted. STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN SPARKMAN, A UNITED STATES
SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF ALABAMA
Senator SPARKMAN. That is the place where I ought to be at this very minute, but I do appreciate the opportunity to talk with you very briefly on this question of proposed amendment of rule XXII.
Personally, I do not believe that rule XXII requires or needs any amendment. I think it has a very definite purpose. After all, we must remember that this Government of ours is built upon the system of checks and balances. I don't have to explain to you or to any other Member of the Senate or any American, so far as that is concerned, the matter of our so carefully balanced system of government as among the several branches of Government and even between different divisions within the respective branches themselves—the veto, the passage over a veto, the many other things wherein one branch of Government or one division within a branch checks or balances against the other. Rule XXII is a part of that.
I would like to discuss this from the standpoint of rule XXII being a protection for the States. I would like to say: Are the individual States to be robbed of their rights as minorities?
And, by the way, Mr. Chairman, I anticipate the question that you may put to me with reference to the right of unlimited debate in Alabama, and I noticed the question that you put to Mr. Campbell, whether or not he would advocate the same.