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motion. The remaining 17 Republicans were primarily—although not entirely— from the Northeast. Moreover, the three absentees announced that if they had been present, they would have voted with us. Our strength had, therefore, increased to 41 members. As our gains began to be evident during the debate, semiofficial rumors were circulated that some form of civil rights legislation would almost certainly be enacted even without a change in the rules. Other rumors promised an early change in the rules as well. This may have lost us 1 or 2 additional votes. Almost immediately after the vote, the senatorial leaders of the two parties, who had presented a united front against the Anderson motion, jointly sponsored a resolution providing for a new rule XXII returning the cloture provisions to the conditions prevailing between 1917 and 1949, namely, that debate could be limited by two-thirds of those present and voting instead of by two-thirds of those “duly chosen and sworn.” Another feature of the Knowland-Johnson resolution is to strike out the provisions expressly preventing cloture from applying to a motion to bring up a change in the rules, but providing instead that Senate rules shall continue from one Congress to the next, unless changed as provided in the rules. Careful students have pointed out that this new proposal for a restriction on changing Senate rules in any future Congress may be as unconstitutional as we believe section 3 of present rule XXII to be. The whole resolution is clearly an effort to make a small concession on the required votes, but to lock the door tighter against any further future concession to real majority rule. With 13 other Senators, I presented an alternative resolution providing that after 2 days' notice on motion of 16 Senators, debate could be limited by twothirds of those present and voting, and after 15 days' notice, limitation could be effected by an affirmative vote of a majority of those “duly chosen and sworn,” or 49. This resolution also eliminated the existing provision that there could be no cloture on any motion to bring up a change in the rules and retained the present provision giving each Senator the right to speak for 1 hour, even after the affirmative vote on limitation. Since a motion to limit debate would almost never be made—and indeed probably could not enlist the required 16 Senators to present it—until after at least 10 days to 2 weeks of debate, and perhaps more on some issues, the practical effect of the resolution I have presented would be to allow full latitude in debate. Limitation by a two-thirds vote would be virtually impossible, except in some national emergency, short of from 2 to 3 weeks, and if voted it would be possible to have another 96 hours of debate if each Senator used his permitted time. Limitation by 49 votes would only be resorted to after about 4 to 5 weeks of debate, with the same allowance of 1 hour to a Senator after that. The proposed rule is, therefore, liberal in the permitted limits of debate. Given the increased interest in civil rights today, both on the part of supporters and opponents, moreover, it is important to recall that with a relatively full attendance, as on the Anderson motion in 1957 when 93 Senators voted, cloture by two-thirds of those present and voting impose almost as heavy a requirement as the 64 votes under the present rule, I therefore believe on the basis of our experience with the unworkability of the 1917 rule, that simple limitation by such a two-thirds vote would not open up many doors to action. The requirement of 49 in my resolution seems better adapted to the needs. Once again, many Washington correspondents have predicted that there would be definitive action upon the Knowland-Johnson resolution. But like the joint bill which the same 2 leaders had introduced last year with over 80 cosponsors providing for “clean elections” (but not including primaries), this now (March 29) languishes within the Rules Committee and shows few signs of life.
The immediate coming test of strength is to be instead on the civil rights bills backed by liberal Democrats and the administration,
These have been reported favorably by the Constitutional Rights Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee and are now before the full Judiciary Com
mittee. The emergence from that committee will not be easy. If they run the gantlet there, these bills—or the companion hills from the House, if it has acted—will then be placed on the calendar of the Renate, They can be brought up for consideration, however, only on motion, which the southerners are certain to resist. Then if cloture is obtained and the motion to consider is passed, filibustering will continue on the hill itself and on the amendments thereto.
There are, therefore, many parliamentary hurdles for the advocates of civil rights to jump and the later in the session that the bill is brought up for con
sideration, the more difficult it will be to overcome the filibuster and to pass the bill. As I have said, I am extremely doubtful whether any meaningful civil rights measure can be passed by the Senate under its existing rules. But I shall be the happiest member of our body if I am proved wrong.
Should the filibuster, however, be successful in defeating the civil rights program, popular indignation against this practice will undoubtedly become more intense, and those of us who wish to curb it will in all probability get more than 38 votes on our next attempt in 1959 to change rule XXII. Some observers actually believe that we shall win. I believe that if we are not successful in 1959, we shall be in 1961.
The leaders of the Southern bloc are, I believe, aware of the trend in popular thinking. They give the impression that they do not want to use the filibuster unless they have to do so, because of their fear that in using it they will seal its doom. They may, therefore, seek to head off an open struggle and lessen the impact of popular indignation by quietly seeking to arrange a compromise in the form of a relatively weak and innocuous civil rights bill.
These possibilities are, however, conjectural. The events of the next few weeks and months will throw a great deal of light upon the practical fate of the institution of the filbuster. V
In the meantime, I invite the attention of all those interested in political science and democratic parliamentary procedures to consider just what type of rule should replace the present rule XXII. I should like to propose the following principles for consideration: 1. Full discussion of important legislation should always be assured. 2. After a full discussion, it should be possible for the Senate to come to a vote. 3. A way must be provided to terminate filibusters and remove the roadblock to Senate action that is presented by prolonged discussion aimed at preventing a vote. 4. With proper safeguards for the rights of minorities to discuss issues fully, the right of a majority of the Senate to perform their constitutional function of legislating must be freed from the present shackles of the filibuster. 5. The historic compromise by which small States were given equal representation with the populous States in the Senate, already gives a relatively small minority of the people the control of a majority of the Senate. The filibuster under present Senate rules gives to the representatives of a minority of this minority, namely to 33 Senators, the right to block and veto action by the rest of the Senate. This goes far beyond the compromise which cemented the Union and strains the basic principles of our representative government. Majority rule will restore those principles. 6. The adoption of some such change in Senate rule XXII as I have proposed in Senate Resolution 17 would seem most likely to accomplish the foregoing objectives. 7. The Senate should likewise adopt a rule of relevancy, or germaneness, in general debate, wih some latitude at briefer stated hours for the discussion of other matters. Such changes will become more possible, as the people learn more about the nature and effect of the fetters that now bind the Senate. With such changes, the people may hope for constructive legislation to assure greater equality of opportunity to the millions of our Negro citizens and others who daily in all sections of the country drink the bitter cup of discrimination and intimidation. The conscience of America demands such action for humanitarian, religious, and constitutional reasons. Our national self-interest requires it, as we seek to show to the world that the promise and opportunities of democracy are far superior to the grim realities of tyranny. The time has come for the Senate to act—with all deliberate speed.
1 Many cloture petitions have also been withdrawn or held out of order since 1917. Compiled by George B. Galloway, Senior Specialist in American Government, Legislative Reference Service, Library of Congress.
McGrath (D), Rhode Island
Johnston (D), South Carolina
Rolleall vote in the Senate, March 11, 1949, on appeal from ruling of Vice President Barkley that cloture rule (rule XXII) does apply to a motion to take up
[“Yea” vote is a vote to sustain the ruling]
Aiken (R), Vermont
Bricker (R), Ohio
Rollcall vote in the Senate, January 7, 1953, on motion of Senator Taft to lay on the table the motion of Senator Anderson to proceed to the consideration of the adoption of rules for the Senate of the 83d Congress
Aiken (R), Vermont
Anderson (D), New Mexico
Johnson (D), Colorodo
SUMMARY Yeas Nays Republicans----------------------------------------------------------------- 41 5 Democrats------------------------------------------------------------------ 29 15 Independent------ - ---------------- 1 Total----------------------------------------------------- 21