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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.
There is a great freedom of debate in Alabama. I don't know offhand just what the technicalities of the rule are, but I do know that frequently the senate of the State legislature does prolong debate. Usually it comes out very much the same way as prolonged debates do by both sides finally getting together and agreeing on some practical course for the time being
However, I don't think it is the same within a State. The State governments were set up originally as sovereign governments and the sovereignty lodges in the State and no part of the sovereignty is within the lower political subdivisions except as they are a part of the State as a whole. But that is not true in the Federal Government.
The United States Government as a whole is a Federal Government in which there are two sovereignties, the sovereignty of the Federal Government which is only that which the States gave it, and the sovereignty of the respective States.
By the way, I remind you that up until 1913, I believe it was, States were represented in the Congress of the United States as such.' They still are, but what I mean is that up to that time the two Senators were selected by the State legislatures and were regarded as representing the States and not necessarily the people within the States.
Members of the House of Representatives represent the people of their respective districts. But from the inception of our Government, Senators were here representing the sovereign States, and I think it makes a great difference and is not at all analogous to the situation within an andividual State.
I simply anticipate the question that you might put to me regarding Alabama and that would be my answer to it.
Should a group of States from one section of the Nation band together to force a law upon a second section by barring Senators from the second section from having the opportunity to present the debates of that section's convictions upon the floor?
The House of Representatives represents only a geographical subdivision of the State. The executive branch has no direct responsibility to the State. The Supreme Court, because of the very nature of its functions and the conditions under which it was effectively established, was effectively isolated from the individual States. That leaves only two Senators from each State to look after the individual and minority interests of each State.
That is why it is important that the present rule requiring 64 Senators to vote in favor of limiting debate be retained. Free debate is essential to protect minorities from ruthless majorities.
Democracy does not necessarily mean simple majority rule. There are many instances in which a simple majority has no power.
I simply mention, for instance, Senate ratification of treaties requiring two-thirds vote; Senate approval of a constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds vote; ratification of a constitutional amendment requiring a favorable three-fourths vote of the States; and, of course, the present rule that 64 Senators—that is, two-thirds of those duly chosen and sworn-must vote in favor of cloture in order to shut off debate.
The Constitution contains certain rights guaranteed to each individual person, rights which not even a majority of our 170 million population can take away.
Unlimited debate, or, as most people call it, the filibuster, serves especially as a protection against unwarranted invasion of the Federal Government into the private rights of minority groups. Unlimited debate has been minutely considered in the past and has been approved by the Senate.
The rule is a sound one, passed after long consideration, and is an effective tool against passage of hysterically written and emotionally debated legislation.
By the way, Mr. Chairman, I think it is most interesting to consider the history of this rule.
It is rather strange; a great many people have the idea that rule XXII is something that has been imposed upon the people of this country within recent years. As a matter of fact, rule XXII is a liberalization of what existed prior to that time.
Up until 1917, I think it was, there was no limit on debate whatsoever. In 1917, I believe, it was the question of arming merchant ships that produced the prolonged debate. President Wilson described it as that little group of willful men, I believe, and that is what it was that led up to a modification of the lack of any rule prior to that time.
As a matter of fact, you may be interested to know-you know it already, I presume—that the fight for writing some rule was led by a very eminent statesman from my State, Oscar W. Underwood. That is when they wrote into the rules that, under certain conditions, cloture could be imposed.
But, under the interpretation that was given at that time and under the rulings, numerous rulings of the Presiding Officer of the Senate subsequent to that time, it was held not to apply to motions.
Now, rule XXII, the present version of rule XXII, was adopted only a few years ago. I think it was 1948.
Senator JAVITS. 1949.
Senator SPARKMAN. 1949. I was in the Senate at the time. And it was a further liberalization of the rule that was adopted in 1917 in that it was made to apply to motions as well as to resolutions and bills under consideration.
I think we ought to keep that in mind; that the present rule is an evolution from a time when there was no such thing as cloture at all in the Senate of the United States, and I see no need of going further. I believe in the system of this Government of ours. I believe in this system of checks and balances, and I don't believe it ought to be disturbed.
I believe in the protection that the Constitution of the United States gives, both to individuals and to minorities. It doesn't set up a government necessarily of the majority. It sets up a government in which guaranties are sought to be imposed for all citizens of the United States, whether it is a part of the majority or a part of the minority, and I want to protest against any change in the present rule XXII.
Senator TALMADGE. Any questions?
Senator JAVITS. I just wanted to express my personal pleasure to Senator Sparkman, before whom I have personally appeared many times, both as a Member of the House and a Senator, in having him appear before a subcommittee of which I have the honor to be a member.
Senator, I would just like to share with you one brief observation. I hope you won't consider me presumptious. I think, if there is anyone who advocates the position of the South who is a reasonable human being and an intelligent human being, it is the Senator from Alabama. I hope very much to earn that same description myself, though I am very much on the other side.
But I would like to say to the Senator that I think the situation today is somewhat analogous to 1917 in that I believe those who oppose the change in rule XXII are facing the test on the Senate floor right now and that, regardless of what any of us may wish, I think the same historic forces which brought on the rule in 1917 are very likely to bring on the change if, as a country, we don't measure up to this challenge which we are all meeting—it goes for me as well as for those on the other side-on the floor now. That is my conviction.
I want to express it to the Senator, for whom I have a very great affection as a friend.
Senator SPARKMAN. Well, as long as there are rules, I believe in abiding by the rules. When 64 Senators vote to shut off debate, we who should be debating will yield to the 64 Senators. That will be the rules of the game. I am not in favor of changing those rules in the middle of the game.
Senator JAVITS. The Senator favors the rule as it stands now?
Senator SPARKMAN. I favor the rule as it stands and, furthermore, I want to say this, in all due deference to you whom I have known and served with in the House and I have known as a very fine and fairminded representative of your people and always very able and frank in the expression of your views: I want to say that I am of the opinion that, if it were not for the existence of the so-called civilrights issue, there would be no advocacy of the change of this rule, and I think that is most unfortunate.
I don't think I have to state my views. I have stated them many times before. I am sure the Senator from New York is familiar with them. I think that it is most unfortunate that this so-called civilrights problem has been made a political problem, and it is. There is just no getting around it. It is wrapped up in politics. I thinkI have said this ofttimes—that, if a truly earnest effort were made to work it out on the basis that is much more important, that is, an economic basis, the solution would come much more rapidly than it is coming by the semiforce methods.
Anyone familiar with our section of the country is bound to know of the tremendous progress that has been made within recent years, in which the racial tensions have virtually disappeared and the people have learned to live together and to prosper together. It has been an economic problem. As long as there wasn't enough to go around, naturally, somebody was going to be shortchanged. That is a rule of human nature, and that is just what took place. That is the reason that we didn't have the good schools for the Negroes. We didn't have them for the white children.
But you go to the average southern city today and you will find better schools for the Negroes than you will find for the whites. It is catching up. As our economic recovery took place, we had more to spread around, and our people have been catching up and, as a result,