Anniversary to be Noted
Ayn Rand, 1975
Porcupine receives regular emails from Michael Zak, a popular speaker to Republican organizations around the country, and author of "Back to Basics for the Republican Party." He sends these bulletins as the Grand Old Partisan - and this one is special enough that Porcupine is reproducing it in this entirety.
Fifty years ago today, President Dwight Eisenhower signed the 1957 Civil Rights Act. The law had been written by Attorney General Herbert Brownell, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee.
During the five terms of the FDR and Truman presidencies, the Democrats did not propose any civil rights legislation. President Eisenhower, in contrast, at last focused the federal government on defending African-Americans from their Democrat oppressors. He asked Brownell to write the first federal civil rights legislation since the Republican Party's 1875 Civil Rights Act.
In his January 1957 State of the Union address, President Eisenhower re-submitted Brownell's bill to Congress, where it had languished the year before. The new law established a Civil Rights Division within the Justice Department and authorized the Attorney General to request injunctions from federal courts against any attempt to deny someone's right to vote.
The bill had to be weakened considerably to secure enough Democrat votes to pass, so violations would be civil, not criminal offenses, and penalties were light. The original draft would have permitted the Attorney General to sue anyone violating another person's constitutional rights, but Democrat opposition meant this powerful provision would have to wait until the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
From the beginning, the 1957 Civil Rights Act had overwhelming support in the House of Representatives. As ever, Democrats in the Senate were the chief obstacle, and Vice President Richard Nixon played a key role in outmaneuvering them. Campaigning hard for passage of the 1957 Civil Rights Act, Nixon declared: "Most of us will live to see the day when American boys and girls shall sit, side by side, at any school - public or private - with no respect paid to the color of skin. Segregation, discrimination, and prejudice have no place in America."
Lamentably, the Eisenhower administration did not trumpet the bill as a tremendous achievement for our Grand Old Party. And so, when Senate Republicans overcame a Democrat filibuster to pass the bill, it was a Democrat, Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson, who received acclaim for the 1957 Rights Act - written in fact by Herbert Brownell, Republican civil rights hero.
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