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UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN LIBRARIES
even the right of free speech is protected chiefly when the speaker advocates collectivism in some of its numerous forms.
Anything, therefore, that gives States or communities that are in the minority some sort of chance to defend their natural rights and the personal liberties of their people against the overwhelming power of a mighty government is to be safeguarded as a means of defending what liberty remains. For if liberty goes, it matters not whether fascism or communism takes its place. In either event, the days of American greatness will have ended.
One of the principal safeguards remaining is a Senate based on the equal suffrage of the several States and the right of almost unlimited debate of its members. No instance can be recalled in our history where this right of unlimited debate-or filibustering, if you choose to call it sohas operated to the serious injury of the country, except in the opinions of a few disappointed people.
In the past it saved the country from a renewal of the orgies of reconstruction when the force bill was defeated in the last decade of the 19th century. Actually, the shame and crime of reconstruction itself could not have occurred if the several States had been allowed the senatorial suffrage that the Constitution guaranteed to them.
If the aftermath of the Civil War had been as the aftermath of Great Britain's war against the Boers, the hatred and disunity that now, 100 years later, still exist and increase between the sections of the Union would long ago have been forgotten.
A free country must be governed by the consent of the governed, as the Declaration of Independence proclaimed. Otherwise, it is not free. The right of cloture in a parliamentary body is only a right to impose the will of the dominant party on the unwilling minority. It is not necessary ever to invoke it unless the minority is convinced that the action under debate is so oppressive that it never should be advocated by any person professing his loyalty to free institutions.
Take the present case of the so-called--and miscalled-civil-rights bill. If the civil rights of citizens, white or black, cannot be protected in the ordinary course of law by the governments of the States in which they live, then we should abolish the United States altogether and substitute an all-powerful dictatorship in the hope that it might prove beneficent and treat everyone alike. Has any dictatorship done so? Yes; a few, for a short time, perhaps. But you and I do not believe in taking this risk. However, if you make the protection of civil rights, however you define them, the duty of a central government through its appointed agents, attorneys, judges, marshals, and detectives, all of whom are appointed, none of them elected, you are really opening the road to the development of a purely dictatorial form of rule, from which you may find yourselves beyond the point of possible return.
This bill is aimed now at the South, but its principle is equally threatening to every part of our people.
If you overthrow the possibility of talking to death measures of this nature, then you are voting to abandon one of the few remaining lines of defense established by the sagacious strategists of the Constitution, and those who so vote may thunder against communism as much as they please—they will have presented it with a very useful key to unlock the storehouse of freedom and despoil it.
Senator TALMADGE. Any questions, Senator Javits?
Senator TALMADGE. Mr. Cadwalader, we thank you very much for appearing and giving us a very fine statement.
The next witness is Mr. Clarence Mitchell, director of the Washington bureau of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Mr. MITCHELL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator TALMADGE. Proceed as you will, Mr. Mitchell. STATEMENT OF CLARENCE MITCHELL, DIRECTOR OF THE WASH
INGTON BUREAU OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF COLORED PEOPLE
Mr. MITCHELL. Gentlemen of the subcommittee, thank you for this opportunity to testify on the question of amending rule XXII. This statement is brief because there is very little to be said on this subject that has not been said before.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has consistently supported the proposition that a majority in the United States Senate should have the power to limit debate by cloture. At our 48th annual convention, just concluded in the city of Detroit, our delegates again went on record in favor of a Senate rule which would make it possible to stop a filibuster by a majority vote of the Senators present and voting.
Senate Resolution 21, introduced by Senator Wayne Morse, embodies the principle approved by our convention in that it would require a majority of the Senators present and voting to obtain cloture. On the other hand, Senate Resolution 17, introduced by Senator Douglas, Senator Ives, the distinguished junior Senator from New York, Mr. Javits, who is a member of this subcommittee, and others, would also be an effective change that would sound the death kneli of filibustering.
Every Member of the Senate knows that there is a vast difference between full debate and the filibuster. When discussion on the motion to take up the proposed civil-rights bill began on July 8, the Senate Chamber emptied as if by magic. Those who are wise in the ways of Washington knew that speakers would not rely on logic to achieve their goal of killing or emasculating the bill. Instead, it was their intention to force the majority of the Senate to its knees by lengthy speeches, threats of holding up necessary legislation, and liberal use of parliamentary tactics that would cause delay and confusion. Most of the speeches will repeat the wornout phrases about hordes of investigators, opening Pandora's boxes that are filled with Federal bayonets and possible bloodshed. Few, if any, will be on the merits of the bill.
If Members of the Senate were convinced that civil-right opponents were willing to engage in fair debate and vote on the merits of the bill, the record of attendance would be much better.
No one who wishes to preserve the processes of democracy would advocate that fair debate be curtailed. At the same time, no one who
has observed the workings of the Congress could describe the filibuster as an exercise of legitimate rights under free debate.
Even the proponents of the filibuster are ashamed to admit, in Washington, that they advocate using the ugly and disgraceful 'weapon of endless and irrelevant talk as a means of killing a bill. Up here, where the television cameras are grinding and the flower of American journalism watches from the Press Gallery, advocates of the filibuster use parlor language such as "extended debate” and "lengthy consideration” to describe what they intend to do.
Here is what they say when they are talking directly to the folks back home--and I now quote:
The national association for the advancement of the colored race is allied with the CIO, the Americans for Democratic Action, and other groups that call themselves liberal groups. They came up to Congress a few years ago with a program. They wanted FEPC, antipoll tax, antilynching bill, antisegregation statutes of all kinds. Those bills passed the House but, when they got to the Senate, they were met head on with a filibuster. For several years they were filibustered, and after 1950 they were all blocked in the Civil Rights Committee. Do you know how? Why, fate gave me the opportunity to play a crucial role in that controversy.
Late in 1949, Howard McGrath, Senator from Rhode Island, was appointed Attorney General of the United States, and, because of seniority, I was ma-, neuvered into chairmanship of the Civil Rights Subcommittee. Yes, Eastland, of Mississippi, became the boss of the committee that had all the civil-rights bills, and ever since then the CIO and these organizations have been yapping and yapping that I was arrogant and high-hatted with them, and so I was, and they said that I broke the law, and so I did.
You know the law says the committee has got to meet once a week, and there I was, chairman of a committee, and there were northerners up there, Yankees, that didn't know anything about the question, who were lined up against us. You know what happened? Why, for the 3 years I was chairman, that committee didn't hold a meeting. I didn't permit them to meet. My friends, they said I broke the law when I did it, but I had to protect the interest of the people of Mississippi.
We have a rule in the Senate that when you report a bill out of a committee, you have got to have the original bill, got to have the original thing there before you. I was afraid that they'd call a special session of that committee and vote the bills out behind my back. You know what happened? I had special pockets put in my pants and for 3 years I carried those bills around in my pockets everywhere I went, and every one of them were defeated and the CIO and those liberal racial groups yapped and yapped and yapped. But their yapping didn't get them anywhere. My friends, when they failed to get their program through Congress, they turned to the United States Supreme Court with their schemes.
The foregoing is an excerpt from a speech delivered by Senator James O. Eastland when he was a candidate for reelection in Mississippi. Senator Eastland, of course, would not make that kind of speech in New York or Pennsylvania during an election. He would know that such talk would be likely to defeat Democrats who seek election in those States. Now that the election is over and the votes of Pennsylvania and other Northern States have helped to make him chairman of the powerful Judiciary Committee, he has extended the filibuster technique from the Senate floor to the committee room, just as he said he would. The success he has had to date suggests that when a workable cloture provision is established for use on the Senate floor, the Senate should take a look at ways of correcting dilatory tactics in committees.
Those of us who seek the passage of civil rights legislation expect to win this year. But the victory will be in spite of the present.
cumbersome rule XXII. A civil rights bill will pass because of the strong and dedicated leadership now being given by Senator William Knowland, Senator Paul Douglas, and others who have long and faithfully worked for greater freedom for all Americans.
In elosing, I offer this bit of advice for the promising young men of the South who are now Members of the Senate.
By following the filibuster trail, those who wish to kill legislation that they do not like inevitably become overimpressed with their own strength and importance. Filibusters cannot succeed unless there is acquiescence and weakening on the part of the majority. When the majority is determined to accomplish its will, it can permit those who filibuster to talk at length until they wear themselves out. It is important to remember this because there are some proponents of the filibuster who say that it is a bulwark of defense for small States and minorities. Actually, of course, there is no way for small States and minorities to defend their rights by use of the filibuster if the majority of the Senate is determined to bring the issue to a vote.
In 1948, Senator Clyde Hoey of North Carolina was then leader of a move to debate the Chaplain's prayer for the purpose of killing a proposed fair employment practice bill. This debate consumed 2 weeks and at the time there were some who were amused and tolerant of the action of Senator Hoey and his colleagues. But this is a different day and even in the South there are many citizens who do not want their Senators to be famed chiefly for unfair practices of obstruction.
The day of achieving national prestige by use of the filibuster is past. It is no longer possible to be a national hero merely because one has strong lungs and the determination to speak indefinitely. Also, as the right to vote is strengthened in the South and the restrictions against colored citizens are eliminated by court action, executive policies, and legislation, the possibility of having a President or Vice President from the South will increase.
Inevitably, the country will want to know whether the candidate is concerned with the welfare of all of the people or whether he has achieved prominence by catering to a small group of those who are interested in destroying the rights of persons because they happen to be colored or members of some other minority group.
Senator Kefauver's strong showing in the Northern States when he was campaigning for the Presidency shows that voters are increasingly interested in what a man stands for, rather than where he comes from.
The Senators who are tempted to join the present filibuster may well ask themselves the question, "What profiteth it a man to win a talkathon in 1957 if it costs him a chance to go to the White House in 1960 or 1964 ?”
Senator TALMADGE. Have you any questions, Senator Javits?
Senator Javits. Mr. Mitchell, I am much interested in what you have said at the end of your statement about a change of view in the South, and a change of view in the country as respects Senators and other distinguished officials from the South.
I might say to you that this is a development which, regardless of party- I am a Republican, and probably we won't be too strong down there for some time, though we are trying-I welcome, and it is my hope that what is going on now will give us a little better idea through
out the country of the real, fundamental southern attitudes and whether they have been affected by modern conditions. So I am very much interested by that.
I assume you make the statement based upon some background knowledge, by virtue of all your connections and contacts down there.
Mr. MITCHELL. Yes, Senator Javits, I have had the good fortune of living in the South, and also of having married into a family that has its origin in Mississippi. I get down there with great frequency. Therefore, I think I know something about the currents that are coming to the fore.
I have never believed that there are people in the South who are unalterably opposed to any changes that would represent granting full citizenship rights to colored people. I believe if the people were free to choose - I think this has always been true—they would be willing to give consideration to members of the Negro group as equal citizens.
Unfortunately, the political situation in the South is such that because the Negroes are not allowed to vote, it does not pay, in many States, to make any particular appeal to them or to make any special effort to get them to come out to the polls. On the contrary, the opposite is much better for political success.
However, I believe that, as the industrialization of the South continues and as the population shifts take place, it will no longer be possible to define the South as a region which has different customs and mores from the other regions. I think there will be such similarity that we will at least be one great people in this country, interested in protecting ourselves against the common enemy who may be beyond our shores, and dedicated to the principle that we are going to make this the greatest democracy in the world.
Senator Javis. Now, do you believe that the change in the so-called filibuster rule, rule XXII, will make any real contribution to that objective?
Mr. MITCHELL. I am certain it will. In my opinion, the one reason why some of the Senators from the South must engage in the filibuster is because it represents the political lifeline, so to speak. If a filibuster begins and they don't participate in it, they are earmarked for political elimination.
I think anyone who would talk with Senator Kefauver would know, because I have talked with him and he has said this, that when he was a candidate for reelection last time he was running for the Senate, he was opposed by a person who injected the race question, filibuster question, all these things, into the campaign. Fortunately, he won, but there might be other States in which it would not be possible for a candidate to win.
I think if we can change this rule, it definitely will have a very healthy effect.
Senator Javits. Now, what is the Negro population of the 9 socalled Deep Southern States?
Mr. MITCHELL. I think it is somewhere between 6 and 9 million.
Senator Javits. Would you submit for the record a list of the white and Negro populations in the 9 so-called Deep Southern States?