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changing minority groups as issues change. Limitations on the right to de bate very often make it impossible, from the minority point of view, to have an adequate opportunity to present their case.

That'is why I shall do everything I can at all times to protect minority groups, and at the same time do what I can to prevent minority groups from abusing the rights of the majority. I think the filibuster abuses the right of a majority.

I feel that it is important that finally we come to a vote on the merits of any issue, and that no minority group should have the parliamentary power to defeat majority rule in the Senate by way of the filibuster.

There is one argument that is made to me so often that I think it ought to be entered in the record at this point, and that is that, after all, the majority may be wrong. Of course, it is wrong in a democracy quite frequently, but we have our procedures in a democracy for correcting the mistakes of the majority. We do it at the ballot box, or we will do it by repeal of bad legislation or we will do it by court decision. If a majority of the Senate, while wrong, passes an unconstitutional amendment, our courts exist to correct it. As I have said on the floor of the Senate several times I do not think we should ever set ourselves up as a parliamentary body to supplant the courts of the country; I do not think it is a sound argument to say as has been said on the floor, “Well, we are opposed to doing away with the filibuster because we took an oath of office to sustain the Constitution of the United States, and when we think a law is unconstitutional then we think we ought to be allowed to use such a parliamentary technique as the filibuster to prevent the passage of an unconstitutional act.” That is a very common argument of the proponents of the filibuster, and my answer to them is this: That our job as legislators is to sit there and vote against an act that we think is unconstitutional. But we ought to vote against it. We should not use a technique which will prevent others who disagree with our judgment from voting for it. After we have voted we should then let the courts decide whether or not the law is in fact unconstitutional..

I close, Mr. Chairman, by simply saying that we as Senators are very well informed as to both the merits of a filibuster and the demerits of a filibuster. I think the merits of a filibuster cease to exist once you have guaranteed to each Member of the Senate a time procedure which will assure him of adequate opportunity to see to it that the bill is discussed on its merits. I think that the only thing that can be said for a filibuster is that it is important when a very controversial issue is before the Senate, that not only adequate time be given to the Senate to consider it in debate but that adequate time be given to the country to consider the fact that it is being considered in the Senate and will be voted upon in the near future. But after you have provided for that protection, then I think we certainly owe it to our form of Government to see to it that majority rule has a chance of prevailing in the Senate. It never prevails in the Senate when the filibuster stifles it. In

essence, that is all I have to say on my resolution. If you have any suggestions for improving it without destroying the objective I have in mind, you will find me most cooperative in accepting amendments.

(The magazine article submitted by Senator Morse is as follows :)

[From Collier's Magazine, June 15, 1946)


(In this article Senator Morse issues a call to battle against dictatorship in Congress. He has evolved a plan based on parliamentary procedures which offers hope to all legislators who have fumed while the activities of Congress were stopped by Senators who wear down the majority by reading for days from cookbooks and telephone directories. These minorities, who on occasion can subvert the will of the majority, must lose their power if democracy is to be returned to Congress, Senator Morse holds. His plan, which is aimed at both the filibuster in the Senate and the Rules Committee in the House, may be successful if he can muster sufficient congressional support.)

On the floor of the Senate a small band of willful men had been holding up Senate action on a bill to promote equal employment opportunity for all Americans, regardless of race, religion, or color. A clear-cut majority of the Senate favored the principles of the bill. President Truman, on behalf of the Democrats, had asked for the legislation. The Republican Party platform of 1944 had pledged itself to the principles of the measure. Nevertheless, a group of Southern Democrats had banded together to talk the bill to death. Hearing it, a young veteran burst out to me:

"But, Senator, it's dictatorship!"

The air in the Senate was fervid with oratory. Senator Wallace White, of Maine, the Republican leader, defended the filibuster, although not a party to it, by stating that: "There may be times and circumstances in which minorities can in one way alone successfully resist the power of a temporary majority."

My veteran friend was bewildered. "If the Senate's rules allow a minority to control it," he asked, "where's democracy in Congress?” And if we don't have democracy in Congress, how can we preserve democracy in the United States?

Millions of people are asking these same questions. Not only because they have witnessed the disgraceful spectacle of filibustering in the Senate, but also because in the House of Representatives they have seen the principle of majority rule stifled by the small but powerful Rules Committee.

It is common knowledge that 7 members of this 12-man committee wield what amounts to dictatorial power over the entire House. These men have time and time again prevented important measures from being properly considered in debate by the House as a whole, or even from reaching the House floor.

The theory behind the Rules Committee is that it should act as a traffic director on the legislative highway. In actual fact, the committee has become an obstruction to orderly traffic. Likefeudal barons who levied a toll upon those who used their roads, the committee often allows bills to come before the House only on the condition that certain amendments be written into them. It frequently usurps the functions of the regular legislative committees by conducting hearings on bills that already have been carefully studied by the proper legislative committee confining itself, as it should, to questions of procedure.


There have been notable occasions when the Rules Committee, in effect, has originated legislation, although it was never contemplated that it should exercise this privilege. Recently, it will be recalled, the House Labor Committee approved the kind of bill it thought would contribute to labor peace. But a majority of the Rules Committee favored the Case bill, which the legislative committee had rejected. So it ruled that the Case bill be considered by the House rather than the Labor Committee's bill.

The job of the Rules Committee is to report to the House, in conjunction with a bill, a resolution setting the terms of debate upon the measure. Often the committee blocks the legislative road completely by failing to give a bill the right of way to the House floor under any rule of debate. Sometimes the committee works its will upon the entire House membership by imposing “gag rules" that restrict the time allowed for debate and the circumstances under which amendments may be offered.

There is no hope for government by the majority in Congress until the rules are thoroughly overhauled to free the House and the Senate from the legistive tyranny of a willful minority in either branch. These two infections of the body politic—the powers of the Rules Committee and the filibuster-are sources of intolerance and reaction. The Rules Committee must be assigned its original role of traffic director for House bills, and the Senate must adopt rules empowering a majority to end a filibuster.

It must be made clear to the voters that their substantive rights in the passage of all sound legislation needed in the interests of the general welfare cannot be separated from their procedural rights in attaining passage of such legislation. The people must be made to realize that the archaic rules of Congress permit self-seeking minority blocs to defeat legislation the people want without letting it come to a vote.

Most writers dip their pens in despair when they attempt to make suggestions for remedying these two evils. They point out that any resolution to reform the House Rules Committee would be referred to that committee itself-which group could be expected to protect its dictatorship by quietly filing the proposal.

They call attention to the fact that the rules of the Senate have been carefully devised to protect the filibuster. A third plus one of the Senators can now prevent cloture-put a limit on the length of time a Senator may talk-thereby allowing a filibuster to continue until the legislation against which it is directed has been withdrawn or emasculated. Thus, most critics say it is almost hopeless to propose a resolution to eliminate the filibuster because the proposal itself would be subject to the filibuster technique.

The Senate has a Rules Committee, too. Although it does not have the sweeping powers possessed by the House Rules Committee, it does have jurisdiction over any proposal to change the rules and procedures of the Senate. Judging from the past, this committee could be counted upon to bury alive any, proposal referred to it which seeks to reform the procedures of the Senate in the interest of majority rule.


A good example of the way the Rules Committees of both Houses protect what they believe to be their vested interests is the action which they took in passing upon the resolution setting up the La Follette-Monroney committee to make recommendations for the reorganization of Congress.

Since early 1945 this committee has been making an exhaustive study of various proposals for the reorganization of Congress, and it recently submitted a splendid report on the subject.

However, although the report presents sound proposals for reorganizing most other congressional committees, it makes no recommendations whatsoever in regard to the House Rules Committee, and says nothing about the colossal waste of congressional time occasioned by the filibuster. The omissions are startling, but no fault of the LaFollette-Monroney committee.

The resolution that set it up was rewritten by Senate and House Rules Com. mittees specifically to prohibit the special committee from making “any recommendations with respect to the rules, parliamentary procedures, practices, and/or precedents of either House."

But the problem is not as hopeless as the experts seem to think it is, provided enough Members of the Congress have the will to make the fight. The situation calls for a two-front attack in both Houses of Congress. The time to attack is on the first day of the new Congress next January.

On the first day of a new Congress the House adopts the rules that will guide it for the next 2 years. Usually the rules of the last Congress are accepted without change, by a routine motion. But that need not be the case. During that brief period on the opening day between the time that the Speaker of the House opens the session of the new Congress and the time when the House passes a motion adopting the rules of its previous session with whatever changes it may wish to authorize, the Rules Committee is temporarily stripped of power.

Hence it is at this time that the proponents of majority rule must strike their blows against the dictatorship of the committee. They must be prepared to offer at precisely the right moment an amendment to the rules depriving the committee of its broad powers over legislation, limiting it to the task of directing legislative traffic on the House floor.

This proposal would become pending business of the House, open to full debate on the floor and not subject to reference to the Rules Committee. The changes would become effective if approved by a majority of the House.

If the majority of the Members of the new Congress elected next November really want to establish majority rule in the House and be freed from the dicta. torial domination of the Rules Committee, let them stand up and be counted on the opening day of the new session.

A similar fight for democracy should be waged in the Senate on the first day of the next session of Congress. On that day all Senators who believe in the establishment of majority rule in the Senate should support a resolution aimed at preventing any future filibusters. By a majority vote such a resolution can be made the subject of Senate business and disposed of without reference to committee. There is little doubt, of course, that the introduction of such a resolution will be vigorously opposed by the defenders of the filibuster. The sponsors of Senate rule by the minority already have made themselves clear. During the recent FEPC filibuster, Democratic Senator Tydings of Maryland stated: “The rule of the majority. The rule of votes. Majority to Hades * Let us not fool ourselves with the silly thought that majorities are always right.**

Democratic Senator Russell of Georgia rejected the idea of “a pure democracy, where every man's vote would be counted on every issue,” and then later referred to the filibuster as a "bulwark against oppression by a mere popular majority.”


It is clear that these Senators will wage a last-ditch fight against antifilibuster legislation with their customary weapon, the filibuster. However, a filibuster can be defeated. The recent FEPC filibuster could have been broken if a serious attempt to do so had been made by the Democratic Senators.

At that time the Democratic majority in the Senate, supported by many Republicans, recessed the Senate between 4 and 6 o'clock each afternoon during the filibuster, and on Friday afternoons recessed until each following Monday at noon. The Democratic administration made public statements in support of the FEPC, but took no effective action against the filibuster. No Democratic Senator and only a few Republican Senators were willing to join in my suggestion at that time to hold the Senate in continuous session for 24 hours a day for as many days, weeks, and months as might be necessary to break it. An opportunity to establish, once and for all, majority rule in the Senate was passed up. It should not happen again.

Under the filibuster, with all its insidious effrontery, the principle of rule by a majority is denied the people in the determination of congressional policy. I do not say that the majority is always right; but I do say that under our form of representative government a minority of Senators should not be permitted, by means of the filibuster, to block legislation favored by the majority. If the majority passes legislation which the people of the country do not favor, it must answer to the voters of the country for their action on that legislation, and the voters will then have a chance to send men to the Senate under instructions to repeal any legislation that the people do not want.

There is no way to smash a filibuster but to exhaust the filibusterers by forcing them to speak day after day for 24 hours a day.

In a very real sense a filibuster is an endurance test. If a majority of the Senators really want to free themselves from the dictates of a willful minority, they must be willing to take the time and undergo the physical strain that may be necessary to abolish once and for all the filibuster travesty.

If a majority of the present Senate really doesn't want to make that fight, then the voters should start finding it out in the 1946 elections. They should see to it that they send back to the Senate men pledged to make that fight. For my part, I am determined that the fight shall be made. But it cannot be made without the assistance of Senators in both parties. It will not be a pleasant fight. But with demonstrated public backing, it undoubtedly would end quickly.


When continuous sessions were proposed as the only effective method of beating the recent FEPC filibuster, the criticism was made that the procedure was beneath the dignity of Senators. That, of course, was pure nonsense. Nothing could be more undignified than the manner in which the Senate record is disgraced with long-winded ranting and meaningless talk during a filibuster. My proposal for continuous sessions of the Senate has been criticized as too dramatic. That argument is without weight. It is highly important that this issue be fully dramatized in order to impress upon the American people its vital importance to their legislative rights.

There are two reasons why it is important that the fight to pass an antifilibuster resolution should be waged at the beginning of the next session of Congress : First, it should be conducted concurrently with the fight to establish majority rule in the House in order that public attention may be focused on the same basic issue; namely, the need of democracy in both Houses of Congress.

Second, if the resolution is followed by a fllibuster, it will not hold up any other legislation, since none will be ready for Senate action. It would be very difficult to break a filibuster near the close of a session, because the unity of action required on the part of Senators is difficult to obtain when so many of them are anxious to recess and go home. It is likewise difficult to wage a successful fight against a filibuster in the middle of a session, since the argument is always made that taking the time to defeat a filibuster blocks action on other legislation vital to the welfare of the country.

One rule in political strategy, as in boxing, is never to telegraph your punches. But this fight involves more than political strategy. This is a fight to establish the people's rights to democratic procedures in their Congress, and it is important that the people themselves should become understanding participants. Everyone should know months ahead of time that January 7, 1947, or whatever day Congress reopens will be D-day on Capitol Hill-Democracy Day for reasserting and reestablishing majority rule in the Congress of the United States; Duty Day for all Members of Congress to restore representative government to the legislative processes of Congress.

If majority rule is to characterize the procedures of Congress, the voters of this country must make that clear to congressional candidates in November. Either we are going to reestablish the principle of majority rule in our Congress or we are going to continue to drift into government by minority interests and bloc pressures. This is another test of liberalism versus reactionism.

It is important that the American people recognize that our form of Government can protect their rights only so long as they keep it strong and effective. Representative government is not a machine that works automatically. It is but a set of rules and principles which the people by their own consent have decreed shall be binding upon their own conduct. These principles cannot work unless they are administered by men and women responsive to the will of the voters who elected them.

The people must be ever watchful against institutions, like the filibuster and powers of the House Rules Committee, which permit the perversion of free government by self-seeking men. If the people relax their vigilance, they may lose the fruits of democracy which promote the greatest good for the greatest number within the framework of our private-property economy.

Senator WHERRY. Have you any questions, Senator?
I will be glad to have you take part if you are interested.

Senator FULBRIGHT. No; I had not thought of any. I did not know I was privileged to question.

Senator WHERRY. It is open house in this committee room any time. We will be glad to hear from you. .

While you think it over, Senator, I would like to ask Senator Morse a question or two.

Mechanically, you did not change the procedure now whereby we bring a cloture petition. Your change is in the majority vote and in

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