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We see no reason why this vote on cloture should be treated differently from other rules of parlamentary procedure. It takes only a two-thirds vote of those Senators present to expel a Member of the Senate, only a two-thirds vote of those present is needed to impeach the President of the United States. The requirement to override a Presidential veto is only two-thirds of those present and voting, and the same applies to proposing constitutional amendments. It takes only a two-thirds vote of those present and voting to ratify a treaty which could mean eventual war-and in these days, such a war might mean the end of civilization.
If these matters of the first magnitude require only a two-thirds vote of those Senators present and voting, what possible justification is there for demanding a vote of two-thirds of the Senators duly chosen and sworn, which in a full Senate means 64, for cloture?
Let me state right here that we are for full debate on any and all issues. We support the right of minorities to express their views and we actively encourage them to do so. However, there is a vast difference between honest debate to express beliefs and prolonged delay for the specific purpose of killing a bill.
This is a reasonable statement to which fair-minded men will agree. Those who oppose changing rule XXII for the purpose of filibuster with the avowed purpose of preventing a vote must acknowledge that they are against majority rule, which is the accepted determination in America.
It is no secret that the opponents to a change in rule XXII are motivated by their desire to stop civil-rights legislation. With the civil-rights bill now on the Senate Calendar, it is openly stated that there will be a filibuster against it. To us, this is a declaration of anarchy. It is the desire of the majority to pass this legislation. Yet, this willful minority is determined that the majority shall not have its way. This despite the fact that the Senators on both sides were elected on platforms assuring civil rights to all.
There are many resolutions pending before the committee which go a long way toward meeting our objectives. We see merit in Senate Resolution 21, introduced by Senator Morse, and also merit in Senate Resolution 17, introduced by Paul Douglas and 14 other Senators.
We do not presume to be experts in determining just how long is the proper time for debate. It is our belief that a satisfactory compromise can be reached which both sides could support if they are interested in seeing that the Senate can function.
I am aware that you have these various resolutions before you, so I will not go into them in detail. We are not presuming to urge that you adopt a specific resolution but rather that you see that the minority has adequate time to express their views and still make sure that there is majority vote.
Throughout this troubled world, the Voice of America is a voice crying for freedom. We point with horror to Hungary, believing that the will of the majority has been suppressed. We view East Germany in the same light, as well as the rest of the satellite countries. We condemn Russia, stating flatly that it has a totalitarian regime; that it does not respond to the will of the people. In other countries we condemn minority suppression of whatever sort.
We can go a long way toward cleaning our own house by amending rule XXII. In this manner we will have a better chance of calling upon all countries to let there be a true expression of their citizens' desires.
Surely, no one can deny that rule XXII as it now stands is an excellent basis for anti-American propaganda. Let's take this weapon out of their hands and make the Senate what it is supposed to be a reflection of the wishes of the majority of American citizens.
Both political parties have cried it is time for a change. I think it is time that the Senate heeded this cry and changed rule XXII so that the mandate of the majority of Americans can be effected.
STATEMENT OF GEORGE C. WALLACE, JUDGE, THIRD JUDICIAL CIRCUIT OF ALABAMA,
TO SENATE RULES COMMITTEE ON PENDING RULES CHANGE PROPOSALS, JULY 16, 1957
I am opposed to the several resolutions submitted for consideration by this committee that would limit debate in the greatest deliberative body in the world, the United States Senate. I am judge of the Third Judicial Circuit of Alabama, and was elected by the Alabama delegation to the recent Democratic National Convention as their representative on the platform committee.
I quote in the beginning from the Saturday Evening Post of January 12, 1957, an editorial of that publication that is on public record in favor of civil
rights legislation: “Despite all the talk about whether the Senate is a continuing body or whether it is a new body, with the right to make new rules every time it meets, the essential issue is whether or not a majority in Congress shall be able to force into law proposals which are not accepted as valid by a considerable number of States.” The late Senator James Reed, fiery Democrat of Missouri, might well have settled the argument when he said many years ago:
"Strike down this safeguard of public discussion, apply the gag, and imagine if you please, that it is applied only to pass good measures, only to accomplish the virtuous and the wise and the holy, only to bring the thing of rectitude; imagine that if you please. He is a fool, he is every kind of a fool that has ever cursed the earth or cursed himself, who thinks that any power will always be used wisely and justly. Why should there not be some place in this country where the virtues or the inequities of proposed legislation could be exposed without gag, without rule, without limit, some place where every public act must come under the surveillance of men who have complete freedom of speech ?”
The Constitution of the United States provided in article 1, section 3, paragraph 1, that the Senate of the United States shall be composed of “two Senators from each State." Although many States have populations in the millions, many others do not, and the voice of Nevada, in the United States Senate, is as powerful as the voice of the Empire State. This was the intention of those who drafted and ratified the Constitution, and as for further insurance that no State might be outvoted by another State in the Senate, in article V we find "that no State without its consent shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.” Yet one of the effects of the proposed rules change is that a certain number of Senators can and will deprive the Senators from other sovereign States of their right to discuss freely, and without limitation, matters before the Senate that affect the very peace and tranquility of their States.
Any one of the resolutions adopted limiting debate would be a rule limiting the voice of the States; all of this because there are those who shout majority rule shall and must prevail in the Senate. The founders of the Nation, those who drafted and ratified the Constitution, did not subscribe to any such theory. If they had so subscribed to such a theory, then there would never have been any equal representation in the Senate of the respective States, regardless of population. If those who raise the hue and cry about majority rule are successful in limiting the voice of the States, will they then say we must limit the vote of the States? I submit that such would eventually be the recommendations of these liberal organizations that are advocating restriction of debate in the United States Senate. I submit that whenever it suits their whim and fancy they will advocate:
Ratification of treaties with foreign nations by majority vote, and not by the required two-thirds;
Majority approval of a constitutional amendment by the Senate instead of two-thirds vote;
Majority of States only in ratification of a constitutional amendment instead of the three-fourths now required. The proponents of certain legislation and certain proponents of the rule change say "the end justifies the means." When we degenerate in this country to the acceptance of such theory of government, then the civil rights of no individual, regardless of color, race, creed, or national ancestry will be safe. The prime examples of governments that followed such theories that “the end justifies the means" were Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, and Communist Russia. There was no such thing as unlimited free debate in those governments that have been swept from the face of the earth, and there is no such thing as unlimited debate in Russia. The Senate of the United States is the only place in our Government where the States have a full voice. Members of the House of Representatives represent only a portion of the people and of the land area of a State; the Chief Executive has no direct responsibility to the States; the Supreme Court is isolated from the States; therefore, the change of Senate rules to allow limitation of debate upon a simple majority vote will be one more step in the direction of relegating the States to mere administrative agencies, and I submit that the change of Senate rules now proposed will sound the death knell to local government, not only in the South but all over the Nation.
People in Alabama believe in constitutional government, and they plead for freedom of debate. They desire to have their representation in the Senate speak freely and without restriction. They know the voice of their Senators in the American Senate is really the voice of their State. We sometimes are perplexed in Alabama and the South when we see certain branches of our Governments
to utter extremes to protect the freedom of speech of those who hate the United States and would destroy this Nation in any manner available, while on the other hand we find others doing all within their power to stifle the voices of those who have always loved America, and who want to keep her free.
We are convinced that the Constitution of the United States intended for free debate to be one of the liberties guaranteed. The Constitution of the United States was freely debated through unlimited debate before it was ratified by the States. Free debate in the Senate is a part of the American system that should not be thrown aside because certain liberal groups desire certain legislation at this time.
If this committee will reflect back over the years, as I am sure you have, you will find that no good legislation was defeated because of unlimited debate, although I am aware of the differences of opinion present on this committee regarding certain legislation. However, the only bills not passed because of unrestricted debate were the force bill, 1890–91; the armed ship bill, 1917; antilynch bills, 1922, 1935, and 1937; antipoll-tax bills, 1942, 1944, 1946, and 1948; and FEPC, 1946. These bills, with the exception of one, the armed ship bill, was aimed at one section of the Nation, the South. The passage of any of these bills, aimed at the South, would have brought an end to constitutional government in the country, because the Congress does not have the right to exceed the powers delegated to it by the Constitution.
Unlimited debate is the greatest protection minority groups have in this country; yet the great political impetus given to this movement to amend the Senate rules comes from certain minority groups in this country who would use any means in order to acquire their full aims. Orderly government, practiced by set rules and law, is the greatest protection the minority groups in this country have. If orderly constitutional government comes to an end in this country through changing the rules of the game in the middle of the game, these same minority groups will rue the day they ever instituted the rules change movement. Therefore, I feel that I can safely say, for I am thoroughly convinced in my mind, that the fight that southerners are leading against the Senate rules change is in reality a fight in favor of minority groups in this country. Change the rules of this United States Senate where just a majority may impose its will upon the minority, and we will find some day some of these minority groups clamoring for these changes crushed under the heel of the majority. Our system of government protects minority groups instead of crushing them. We in the South are a minority group, and I feel that some day the majority of the American people will thank with open hearts the fight that this militant minority is making to restore sanity and normalcy to the American governmental scene, and against changing the unlimited debate rule that has made the American Senate the greatest deliberative body in the world.
Although I am fully aware that the question before this committee is a procedural one, or we might say, in layman's language, a technical question, however, I think it proper and befitting to say briefly what the attitude of the people of Alabama is toward the proposed rules change. In my considered opinion and judgment, the overwhelmingly majority of our people is seething with indignation at the time the Congress is spending upon legislation and proposals aimed at the South. Now, regardless of what some members of the committee might say as to whether or not the rules change is aimed at the South, there is no way that I can be convinced, nor any other Alabamian, that the rules change proposal is not for the purpose of passing punitive and spite legislation against white southerners. You say that this legislation, the so-called civil-rights bill, should pass because you want to help minority groups obtain their rightful privileges under the law, and you say further, but that I dispute, that they are not getting due process and equal protection of the laws. The people of Alabama consider this proposed rule change as a punitive measure, and when you change the rules of the Senate you will be taking another step in the direction toward the point of no return for the minority groups you seek to help. The point of no return will be reached with the southern Negro loses the good will of the southern white man. Thank God this has not happened yet, for the southern white man is patient and he is hopeful that the majority of the southern Negroes will realize, before it is too late, that many who pose as their friends are really interested only in their votes. Should the Senate change the rules of this body, if by so doing it will agitate a whole section of the Nation to the point of endangering the peaceable and friendly relations of the two races, or is that the subtle purpose behind the whole movement? I do not mean to say that any Member of the United States Senate is aware that such is the
purpose of he movement, but I believe that there are sinister forces in this country that desire to see the peace and tranquillity now prevailing in the South to be no more.
I am glad that I as a circuit judge, have a reputation among the Negro people of my circuit as being fair and honest in my dealings with them. I hold my office by vote of the people; I have never made public utterance derogatory against Negro people, nor any of God's children, and I do not ever intend to do so. I am glad to report to you that it is politically inexpedient in my section to make a political speech inciting racial hatreds and enmities, and I pray that it will always be the case. If the time comes when this is not the case it will be because the "do-gooders" and politicians from other sections have meddled until the patience of our people is exhausted. A change in the rules of the Senate will be looked upon by our people as being continued warfare against southern people. Our feelings alternate between that of anger, hurt, and disgust at the invective heaped upon us regarding our relations with the minority group. This we do know: That we have extended the hand of compassion to the Negro people more than the people of any other section have. Our relations have been good; we have lived together in peace and harmony. We, together, have worked through our leadership in political life to throw off the shackles of economic discriminations shackled upon us for the past 100 years, by the very sections of the Nation that cry "discriminations." We know that discriminatory freight rates, Pittsburgh plus, and other artificial restrictions imposed upon us by the East and Midwest relegated our people to an agricultural economy with not the proper balance of industry. As a result, our people did not have the income or the industrial-job opportunities of other sections, and as a further result, our white and Negro people did not have their fair share of educational opportunities, health advantages, and material comforts, all because of northern and midwestern discrimination. Is it any wonder we decry the hypocrisy in the matter? We at least know that we preach and practice the same system, while in other sections of the Nation one system is preached and another system is practiced. The change in the rules of the Senate, the civil-rights organization say, will destroy the sinful, immoral, and irreligious system of separation of the races. Our system is not sinful, immoral, or irreligious, because our system is not based upon hatred, ill will, or malice, but based upon what we believe in our hearts to be for the best interest of both the Negro and the white man, and although I am not a student of theology, I know that there is nothing irreligious about any system, whether it be political, social, or economic, based upon the firm foundation of best interest.
The present Senate rules have preserved constitutional government. Should they now be changed because of pressure groups, in order to pass legislation that will
1. Abolish trial by jury in civil rights cases, the most fundamental of civil rights.
2. Take over law enforcement of local government. 3. Destroy local government in this country. 4. Take over the electoral processes of the States by the Federal Government.
5. Empower the Civil Rights Commission with blanket jurisdiction over the everyday lives of American citizens.
6. Destroy the laudable rule of comity heretofore recognized in American jurisprudence.
7. Make all Americans fear a knock on the door at night.
In conclusion let me say that I desire to see peaceful relations among our people. I do not desire to see the southern white man and Negro drift apart be cause of the actions now being taken by all branches of the Federal Government. We have the problem-you always have the solution, so you say. We are sincere in our desire to live in peace and harmony. Do not compound our problem. You will do this if you at this time vote to change the rules of the United States Sepate.
PRIDE OF BOONTON COUNCIL No. 103,
Boonton, N. J., July 31, 1957. Senator HERMAN E. TALMADGE,
Senate Committee on Rules and Administration. DEAR SIR: As a patriotic group of American citizens, may we ask you to use your influence in defeating the bills limiting debate in the Senate, namely, Senate Resolution 17, Senate Resolution 19, Senate Resolution 21, Senate Resolution 28, Senate Resolution 29, Senate Resolution 30, and Senate Resolution 32. We are all interested in these bills and should like to see the Senate have the power to debate on legislation, and we are so writing our Senators. Thanking you for any action favorable to our views, we remain
Very truly yours, [SEAL]
Mrs. ETHEL M. BAKER, SECRETARY.
LIST OF OTHER INDIVIDUALS EXPRESSING OPINION ON PROPOSED
CHANGES IN RULE XXII IN LETTERS AND TELEGRAMS TO THE SUBCOMMITTEE
Following is a letter dated May 10, 1957, from Senator Herman E. Talmadge to former Vice President John Nance Garner, together with Mr. Garner's reply:
UNITED STATES SENATE,
May 10, 1957. Hon. John NANCE GARNER,
Uvalde, Tex. DEAR MR. GARNER: The Senate Committee on Rules and Administration has named a special subcommittee to take testimony on seven proposals pending before it to change Senate rule XXII relating to limitation of debate.
I have been named to that subcommittee and, because I consider the question of free debate in the Senate to be a matter of fundamental importance to the maintenance of constitutional government in this country, I have insisted that the hearings be thorough and that the views of the “grassroots" citizens of this Nation be determined. Toward that end, I have served notice that I intend to see that all patriotic, non-Communist organizations with national memberships and a number of men in public life such as yourself who are conversant with this and related issues are invited to express their views.
While no date has been set for the beginning of these hearings, the subcommittee has agreed that they will be continued until all interested parties have the opportunity to be heard. It is my hope that you will wish and be able to participate and I shall look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience. With every good wish, I am Sincerely,
HERMAN E. TALMADGE.
DEAR SENATOR TALMADGE: I favor free and unlimited debate in the Senate. Sincerely,
JOHN N. GARNER. May 15, 1957.
The following persons, either spontaneously or in response to letters from the subcommittee (similar to the above), have expressed opposition to the proposed change in rule XXII: Miss Isabel L. Adams, 875 San Ysidro Edward Bates, 1035 West 51st Street, Road, Santa Barbara, Calif.
Los Angeles, Calif. Mr. and Mrs. Nye Adams, 4018 Bell Mrs. Carl H. Baumgarten, 4613 Cass Street, Kansas City, Mo.
Street, Omaha, Nebr. Mrs. Florence Bassler, Chicago, Ill. Mrs. Elldora W. Belmond, 1836 Cren(postmarked).
shaw Boulevard, Los Angeles, Calif.