The First Hickenlooper

Among the over twenty people who are running for the Democratic nomination for 2020 is former Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado. Although he is the first person with the surname Hickenlooper to have presidential aspirations, he is not the first to have made it big in politics. That distinction goes to his distant cousin, the appropriately-named Iowa Republican Bourke B. Hickenlooper.

Iowa Politics

Bourke Blakemore Hickenlooper (1896-1971) started on the state level of Iowa politics, serving in its Assembly. In 1936, he ran for Lieutenant Governor and although he was unsuccessful in a bad year for Republicans, “Hick” gained name recognition with the voters. In 1938, he tried again and prevailed. During his time in office, he gained good publicity for saving a woman from drowning which helped him win the 1942 gubernatorial election. Hickenlooper continued to be popular as governor, which resulted in him being the only Republican to defeat a Democratic incumbent in the 1944 Senate elections.

Senator Hickenlooper

On his entry to the Senate he was placed on the Foreign Relations Committee and was later placed on the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy. On foreign affairs, Hickenlooper cooperated with post-war foreign policy, voting for the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan. However, he took General MacArthur’s side in his feud with President Truman during the Korean War. Senator Hickenlooper staunchly opposed government involvement in market affairs and opposed government production and transmission of electric power. Although Hickenlooper had voted for Atomic Energy Commission chair David Lilienthal in 1947, in 1949 he accused him of incompetence, grilling him on missing uranium from an Illinois AEC laboratory. Although Lilienthal narrowly kept his position, he ultimately resigned six months after, citing the missing uranium. Hickenlooper also advocated for private development of atomic energy, which became a reality with the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, which he sponsored. A staunch anti-communist, he was one of 22 senators to vote against the censure of Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-Wis.) and supported anti-communist amendments to foreign aid bills. Despite being from a farm state, he voted for the Eisenhower Administration’s efforts to enact free market reforms for agriculture.

In 1959, Everett Dirksen (R-Ill.) was elected by Republicans to lead the party in the Senate. Although Hickenlooper voted for him, he would become his leading rival in the party as Chair of the Senate Republican Policy Committee. He disliked his backroom deals, thinking Dirksen compromised too much with Democrats and didn’t give other Republicans enough of a voice. In 1962, as the ranking Republican member of the Foreign Relations Committee, he proposed the Hickenlooper Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act. If enacted, it would have cut off foreign aid to countries expropriating US property. This was in response to Cuban and Argentinian nationalizations of American oil companies and sugar plantations. President Kennedy opposed the amendment, as he believed it would undermine diplomacy in Latin America, and his Senate allies defeated the proposal. In 1963, after voting to uphold a reservation he voted for the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which banned nuclear testing in the atmosphere. However, most of any cooperation Hickenlooper gave to Democratic Administrations was in foreign policy; he voted against the New Frontier and Great Society programs, including the Economic Opportunity Act and Medicare.

Hick and Civil Rights

In 1946, Hickenlooper, with Republican Styles Bridges of New Hampshire, called for Senator and KKK member Theodore Bilbo (D-Miss.) to be denied a seat for inciting intimidation and violence against blacks trying to vote in that year’s Democratic primary election. Until 1964, Bourke Hickenlooper’s record on civil rights was positive. He supported Truman’s desegregation of the army, supported a voluntary Fair Employment Practices Committee, backed the Eisenhower civil rights bills, and the abolition of the poll tax in federal elections. However, Hickenlooper is most known here for his role in the debate of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

One of the ways Hickenlooper’s rivalry with Minority Leader Everett Dirksen (R-Ill.) manifested was on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as he objected to the employment discrimination section. He feared that the government was being granted too much power over individuals and tried to rally other Republicans against the bill. Although through a deal Hickenlooper agreed to vote to break the filibuster on the bill, he was one of six Republican senators to vote against the bill itself. He later voted for the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and opposed the Fair Housing Act of 1968.


Hickenlooper retired in 1969, dying two years later.  In his 24 years in the Senate, he served as a leading conservative voice and a leading anti-communist on the Foreign Relations Committee. Like Colorado’s John Hickenlooper, Bourke was popular with the folks of his home state as governor and went by “Hick”. However, his politics were for the most part entirely different.


Operation Paperclip: The Nazis, The Moon, and Thalidomide

LBJ, Kurt Debus, and JFK

At the end of World War II, the United States and the USSR were eager to gather as many scientists from the defeated Germany as possible. The United States had Operation Paperclip while the Soviets had Operation Osoaviakhim (which was done literally at gunpoint). Because my blog covers American history, I will be focusing on Paperclip. Although President Truman stipulated that no war criminals were to be taken in for this operation, this was in practice disregarded. Numerous scientists and former Nazi officials who contributed to American scientific efforts during the Cold War were implicated in crimes against humanity, and a few had even been convicted.

The most famous of the imports were:

Arthur Rudolph

Arthur Rudolph was so critical in the development of the Saturn V rocket that he was regarded as the “Father of the Saturn Rocket”. He was also at first classified as a war criminal by American forces for his use of slave labor; he had directed production operations of the V-2 rocket, which included over 5,000 slave laborers at the Nordhausen camp. In the 1980s, he was forced to relinquish US citizenship when his past came to public light. As late as 1985, he stated that “I read Mein Kampf and agreed with lots of things in it” and that “Hitler’s first six years, until the war started, were really marvelous” (Jacobsen).

Hubertus Strughold

Known as the “Father of Space Medicine”, Strughold made tremendous contributions to America’s space program. He also conducted freezing experiments on prisoners of Dachau as head of the Medical Research Unit of the Luftwaffe. The revelations about his involvement were made public after his death and shocked his colleagues and students, who beforehand couldn’t speak higher of him.

Walter Dornberger

Dornberger was the Wehrmacht Major General who headed the facility at Peenemunde and was Wernher von Braun’s superior. Along with Arthur Rudolph, he had direct responsibility for slave labor conditions in these facilities which resulted in the deaths of 47,000 of 60,000 laborers. Initially the British imprisoned him for two years and were going to try him for war crimes, but he was released to the United States to contribute to the rocket program. Dornberger was subsequently hired by the Bell Aircraft Corporation. He contributed to several projects from 1950 to 1965 and rose to the post of Vice President. Dornberger eventually moved back to Germany.

Kurt Heinrich Debus

Kurt Debus was a scientist who worked on the development of the V2 rocket along with Wernher von Braun. The mythology that surrounded people brought in under Operation Paperclip was that they were the “good Germans”. However, Debus had been such an ardent Nazi he wore his SS uniform to work and reported a colleague to the Gestapo. Yet, given his expertise, he was chosen to head the John F. Kennedy NASA facility at Cape Canaveral. He retired in 1974 and lived the remainder of his days in Florida.

Wernher von Braun

Wernher von Braun was the ultimate import of Operation Paperclip. A brilliant rocket scientist who dreamed of man going to the moon, von Braun had led production of V-2 rockets used to terrorize London. At the end of the war, von Braun surrendered to the Americans. He subsequently developed ballistic missiles in Fort Bliss, Texas. He became a prominent advocate of space exploration, writing several articles on the subject and served as a spokesman for the cause in the Disney TV program Man in Space. Von Braun served as director of the Marshall Space Flight Center and directed the development of the Saturn V launch vehicle. On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 landed on the moon, achieving his dreams.

Von Braun, however, had been a Nazi. He was both a member of the party and was granted honorary membership in the SS by its chief, Heinrich Himmler. Additionally, brutal slave labor that caused the deaths of thousands of workers was used to produce V-2 rockets. Von Braun didn’t have authority over the slaves, but it is clear he knew about it. He only started having second thoughts about the regime after he was arrested by the Gestapo. However, without von Braun, the US would likely not have made it to the moon.

Other professionals brought in:

Kurt Blome

He may have been the worst guy the United States brought in for Operation Paperclip. He was a staunch Nazi and the Deputy Surgeon General. He had been indicted as part of the Nazi Doctors Trial and there was solid evidence that he had authority over plague, anthrax, typhoid, and cholera vaccine experiments that killed thousands of concentration camp inmates. He also collaborated with the Japanese in the biological warfare experiments conducted by the infamous Unit 731. The crimes conducted under the office of the Reich Surgeon General were so bad that the Surgeon General himself, Leonardo Conti, hung himself rather than face trial. Blome would have likely met his end by rope as well had the U.S. government not intervened to spare him. He pretty much got the German version of the deal Americans gave to the doctors of the infamous Unit 731 in Japan. In return for sparing him, Blome provided the U.S. government with his research and services in developing biological warfare agents. He was never held accountable for his actions.

Herman Becker-Freyseng

Despite being convicted at the Nazi Doctors’ Trial, getting a 10 year sentence, this Luftwaffe doctor who was implicated in high altitude human experimentation was brought in under Operation Paperclip by contributing to Dr. Strughold’s work from his prison cell.

Otto Ambros

This guy was a chemist by profession and was personally acknowledged for his work by Adolf Hitler. He ran a rubber producing facility at Auschwitz for IG Farben, where he employed slave labor in horrible conditions that resulted in the deaths of thousands of workers. He was tried and convicted of mass murder and slavery with a mere eight year sentence. He was not only released after serving only half of it but all his wealth, including that earned through slave labor, was restored to him. Ambros was brought in by the U.S. government to advise and participate in the development of chemical weapons. He was also one of the inventors of sarin gas and in the 1950s headed the advisory department of Chemie Gruenenthal, the German pharmaceutical company that developed the drug thalidomide, which was marketed to pregnant women and caused hundreds of thousands of miscarriages and horrific birth defects. He also advised major companies such as W.R. Grace and Dow Chemical Company.

Heinrich Muckter

Muckter was a Nazi doctor who was responsible for hundreds of deaths due to his typhus vaccine experiments at Auschwitz. He was arrested by the Americans in 1945 and was brought in to the US for medical research. Muckter subsequently worked for Chemie Gruenenthal, where he led the development of thalidomide, which was released to the public and marketed to pregnant women despite the existence of evidence that it caused birth defects. He made a fortune off of the drug’s sales and ultimately avoided criminal liability while Chemie Gruenenthal was required to pay restitution.

U.S. authorities, given the context of the Cold War, were forced to make moral compromises. Some of the decisions were certainly mistaken, but there aren’t always good choices.


Harbaugh, J. (2017, August 3). Biography of Wernher von Braun. National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

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Jacobsen, A. (2014). Operation Paperclip Photos.

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Weinstein, A. (2013, August 29). The Surprising, Sordid Story of Sarin, Syria’s Alleged Chemical Weapon. ABC News.

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Williams, R. (2012, September 10). Nazis and Thalidomide – The Worst Drug Scandal of All Time. Newsweek.

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Sam Ervin: The “Country Lawyer”

Sam Ervin.jpg

Sam Ervin’s (1896-1985) federal political career began in tragedy: his younger brother, Congressman Joseph W. Ervin, committed suicide on Christmas Day 1945 by inhaling gas from a kitchen stove. The apparent motivation for his demise was the pain he was suffering from a bone infection. He was appointed to finish his brother’s term but wouldn’t return to federal politics for years. In 1954, his career again was boosted by death, this time of Senator Clyde R. Hoey, and Governor William B. Umstead appointed him to fill the vacancy. That year, Ervin served on the committee to determine whether Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-Wis.) should be censured. As did all voting Senate Democrats, Ervin voted to censure McCarthy.

Senator Sam

Having been a state judge in North Carolina politics, Ervin was, to say the least, well-versed in the law. He would often quote the Bible, Shakespeare, and cite the Constitution in his arguments. In 1956, he contributed to the drafting of the Southern Manifesto, which called for all legal forms of resistance to Brown vs. Board of Education and desegregation. Ervin effectively served as the Senate’s defense counsel for the Jim Crow system, yet was not known for using racial slurs or race-based arguments. He thus appeared to be defending a racist system using every conceivable legal argument he could make while personally lacking the prejudice. Ervin eventually changed his mind on Brown vs. Board, as he found the decision to affirm that the Constitution was “color blind”, unlike the policies of busing and affirmative action. In 1972, Ervin led the small group of senators who opposed the Equal Rights Amendment. He opposed the rolling back of labor protections specifically for women, the extension of the draft to women, and the potential for unisex bathrooms that would come with the amendment.

On other political issues, Ervin ranged from moderate to conservative and his reception to the Great Society was mixed: he supported the Economic Opportunity Act and federal aid to education but opposed Medicare and rent supplements. However, along with civil rights, he became most notable for his stances on civil liberties. While as a member of the conservative wing of the Democratic Party from the South, one might think that he took a similarly conservative view on civil liberties, but this wasn’t so. He feared that the age of computers would compromise privacy, denounced lie detector tests as “20th century witchcraft”, and opposed “no-knock” warrants (Barnes). In 1966, his influence made the difference in defeating Minority Leader Everett Dirksen’s (R-Ill.) proposed School Prayer Amendment to the Constitution. He had taken a similar stance as a state legislator in the 1920s, when he worked to defeat a bill to ban the teaching of evolution in schools. In 1974, he authored the Privacy Act, which governs the federal government’s use of personally identifiable information.

The Watergate Committee

In 1973, the Senate Watergate Committee was formed to investigate the break-in to the Democratic National Committee, and Ervin was chosen by Majority Leader Mike Mansfield (D-Mont.) to be its chairman. There were three reasons behind this pick. First, he was a Southern conservative and thus difficult for Nixon to publicly dismiss for ideological bias. Second, it was widely (and correctly) thought that Ervin would retire at the end of his term. Third, he had never run for president and had no plans on doing so. He began the hearings with the following statement, “If the many allegations made to this date are true, then the burglars who broke into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate were in effect breaking into the home of every citizen of the United States. And if these allegations prove to be true, what they were seeking to steal was not the jewels, money or other precious property of American citizens, but something much more valuable – their most precious heritage: the right to vote in a free election” (PBS). On June 25, 1973, the Senate Watergate Committee began hearing the testimony of former White House counsel John Dean, who implicated President Nixon, stating that he had been involved in the coverup of the Watergate burglary and that it was likely that conversations surrounding the subject had been taped. This testimony struck a critical blow to Nixon’s credibility and the discovery and release of the “smoking gun” tape the following year resulted in his resignation. Ervin’s federal career had begun in tragedy and ended in triumph. He resumed the practice of law and in 1983 wrote “Humor of a Country Lawyer”, a collection of wisdom and witticisms. Ervin died of emphysema on April 23, 1985. In his actions and votes, he always believed he was acting in accord with the Constitution.

Bonus: Trope Creator and Quotes

Sam Ervin didn’t just have a political impact, he had a bit of a wider cultural impact as well. When on a TV show or film you see an attorney state humbly with a Southern drawl that they are “just an ol’ country lawyer”, this originates with Senator Ervin. He tended to like to use this line, and most notably did so as chair of the Senate Watergate Committee. Ervin played up his folksy lawyer image even though he had earned his law degree at Harvard.


“I’m just an old country lawyer, and I don’t know the finer ways to do it. I just have to do it my way.” – In response to objections over his aggressive questioning during the Watergate hearings.

“Had I but served my God with half the zeal I served my king, he would not in mine age have left me naked to mine enemies.”

“If men and women of capacity refuse to take part in politics and government, they condemn themselves, as well as the people, to the punishment of living under bad government.”

(Los Angeles Times)


15 Figures Who Made Watergate an American Epic. (2013, May 2013). PBS NewsHour.

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Barnes, H. (2008, July 13). Pondering the paradox of ‘Senator Sam,’ his heritage. Winston-Salem Journal.

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Former Sen. Sam Ervin, Watergate Folk Hero, Dies. (1985, April 24). Los Angeles Times.

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Roe v. Wade = Death of Equal Rights Amendment

In 1920, women were granted suffrage as the 19th Amendment was ratified, and although this was the greatest battle to be won by the women’s rights movement, it wasn’t the final frontier by any means. In 1921, Senator and future Vice President Charles Curtis (R-Kan.) introduced the Equal Rights Amendment, which had been drafted by suffragists Alice Paul and Crystal Eastman. It read, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” However, a major stumbling block for this amendment was that progressives were concerned about the amendment’s impact on hard-fought labor protections that were specifically for women. One of these progressives was Rep. Emanuel Celler (D-N.Y.), who would eventually serve as chair of the Judiciary Committee. In 1953, an Equal Rights Amendment passed the Senate that included the “Hayden Rider”, authored by Carl Hayden (D-Ariz.). The Hayden Rider exempted gender specific labor protections from the amendment’s reach, yet it still didn’t get a vote in the House.

The 1970s: the ERA’s Time Comes

By 1970, Emanuel Celler had been chair of the Judiciary Committee for fifteen years and along with his Republican counterpart, William McCulloch of Ohio, had proven the most crucial House actors in passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This team came together again to oppose the Equal Rights Amendment, which had as its primary sponsors Sen. Birch Bayh (D-Ind.) and Rep. Martha Griffiths (D-Mich.).

In 1971, the House voted to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment on a vote of 354-24. The greatest issue back then with this amendment wasn’t abortion as it wasn’t nationally legal yet, rather the prospect of women being drafted into combat. Objections to this legal probability were not regarded by the majority of Congress to be sufficient grounds to block passage of this amendment, nor were concerns about labor protections, as progressive thinking had moved past this reservation. In 1972, the measure moved to the Senate, where it passed 84-8. Support at the time was across the ideological spectrum: Ted Kennedy and Strom Thurmond both voted for it. In the House, both Bella Abzug and H.R. Gross voted for it. Its opponents included presidential candidate Barry Goldwater and Sam Ervin, who would gain his greatest fame as the chair of the Watergate Committee. The margins of approval were much higher than the 19th Amendment had received when it was voted on in 1919, and there appeared to be no reason at the time that the amendment would not become the 27th Amendment. However, there was a provision that opponents had managed to put in the amendment, that provided that the ERA would expire if after six years it had not been ratified, thus requiring the ERA to go through Congress again.

Or Not…Enter Roe v. Wade

On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court, on a vote of 7-2, ruled that a Texas law that made it a crime to assist a woman in procuring an abortion was a violation of due process and constituted a violation of the “right to privacy” established in Griswold v. Connecticut (1965). They specifically ruled that although restrictions on abortion were not unconstitutional, that ones on first trimester were unconstitutional. In 1976, Congress passed an appropriations bill that included the Hyde Amendment, which prohibited Medicaid funds from being used for abortions. The line in the sand had been drawn for anti-abortion politicians, and they wanted to protect the Hyde Amendment. By this time, the rate of state ratification had slowed and opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment was growing. One convert against the ERA was Ronald Reagan, who had endorsed the amendment as California’s governor. He had similarly been a convert on the issue of abortion, since although he had signed the state’s abortion legalization law, he had come to regret it since the number of abortions spiked dramatically after his signing of the law.

By 1978, the ERA was close to ratification by the states, so supporters managed to lobby President Carter into signing an extension until 1982. Unfortunately for the measure’s supporters, no additional states had ratified by that time. In 1983, Judiciary Committee chair Peter Rodino (D-N.J.) reintroduced the Equal Rights Amendment. Anti-abortion politicians led by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) (who still serves), lobbied for an amendment to the ERA that would make the amendment “abortion neutral”. The Democrats rejected this proposal, and the ERA failed in the House. The Equal Rights Amendment has effectively been a dead letter since due to the insistence of an abortion neutral amendment, or the refusal of the Democrats to accept one. Although a surge of radicalism seems to be sweeping up the Democrats as of late, passage of the ERA seems as unlikely as ever given the old impasse on abortion as well as leftist efforts to redefine what constitutes a “woman” or “man”. I conclude that the Equal Rights Amendment would have been ratified had it not been for Roe v. Wade, as abortion was the issue that defined later debates on the amendment and resulted in enough opposition to prevent it becoming a part of the Constitution.

Opposition to Busing: Based on Race?

Image result for Joe Biden busing

Joe Biden in the 1970s, he stood out at the time as a liberal who turned against busing.

Former Vice President Joe Biden has had a long career in federal politics, so long that it dates back to the Nixon Administration. One of the ways that Biden’s long record of public service can be used against him is his opposition to busing, a means for racial desegregation that resulted in busing students from different districts, including sending a number of white students from middle class neighborhoods to poor black districts. While many, including researchers David J. Armor and Christine H. Rossell, found busing to have failed at its goal of improving the educational outcomes of black students and has been blamed for accelerating the phenomenon of “white flight”, the policy still has its defenders and some of them take issue with Biden’s opposition to the practice. There are also those who believe that opposition to busing was primarily motivated by racism, but I find this belief to be incredibly simplified if you analyze how legislators voted on such questions. A limitation of the example I am about to offer here is it may not be representative of the feelings of the people in the respective districts on these issues, simply those of their legislators. This also, of course, does not account for fringe whites who protested busing in Boston by hurling bricks at buses and shouting n-bombs. I’ll be reviewing four House votes as examples. Two were the votes on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the other two were amendments to an anti-busing bill (which didn’t pass the Senate) in 1972. In the below table are the votes of legislators who were serving both in 1964 and 1972.

  1. Civil Rights Act of 1964

Passed 290-130 (D 152-96, R 138-34), 2/10/64.

  1. Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Senate Bill)

Passed 289-126 (D 153-91, R 136-35), 7/2/64.

3. Ashbrook “Neighborhood Schools” Amendment

Rep. John Ashbrook (R-Ohio) amendment to the 1972 anti-busing bill, stating that the neighborhood was “the” appropriate basis for determining public school pupil assignments. This would have limited desegregation to a neighborhood basis.

Passed 254-131 (D 122-104, R 132-27), 8/17/72.

4. Green Amendment, Reopen Desegregation Cases

Rep. Edith Green (D-Ore.) amendment to the 1972 anti-busing bill, permitting the reopening of cases involving court desegregation orders to bring them into conformity with the provisions of the bill.

Passed 245-141 (D 155-111, R 130-30), 8/17/72.

1 2 3 4
8 Jones, Robert D N N Y Y
1 Rhodes, John R N Y ? ?
2 Udall, Morris D Y Y N N
2 Mills, Wilbur D N N Y Y
1 Clausen, Donald R Y Y Y Y
2 Johnson, Harold D Y Y Y Y
3 Moss, John D Y Y N N
4 Leggett, Robert D Y Y N N
5 Burton, Phil D Y N N
6 Mailliard, William R Y Y N Y
8 Miller, George D Y Y N
9 Edwards, Don D Y Y N N
10 Gubser, Charles R Y Y Y Y
12 Talcott, Burt R Y Y ? ?
13 Teague, Charles R Y Y Y Y
15 McFall, John D Y Y N N
16 Sisk, Bernice D Y Y N Y
19 Holifield, Chet D Y Y N N
20 Smith, Allen R N N Y Y
21 Hawkins, Gus D Y Y N N
22 Corman, James D Y Y N N
23 Clawson, Delwin R N N Y Y
28 Bell, Alphonzo R Y Y N N
30 Roybal, Edward D Y Y N N
31 Wilson, Charles D Y Y Y Y
32 Hosmer, Craig R Y Y Y Y
34 Hanna, Richard D Y Y N N
36 Wilson, Bob R Y N
37 Van Deerlin, Lionel D Y Y Y N
2 Brotzman, Donald R Y Y Y Y
4 Aspinall, Wayne D Y Y Y Y
3 Giaimo, Robert D Y Y ? Y
5 Monagan, John D Y Y Y Y
1 Sikes, Robert D N N Y Y
2 Fuqua, Don D N N Y Y
3 Bennett, Charles D N N Y Y
6 Gibbons, Sam D N N Y Y
7 Haley, James D N N Y Y
9 Rogers, Paul D N N Y Y
11 Pepper, Claude D Y Y Y Y
12 Fascell, Dante D N N Y Y
1 Hagan, George D N N Y Y
6 Flynt, John D N N Y Y
7 Davis, John D N N Y Y
9 Landrum, Phil D N N Y Y
10 Stephens, Robert D N N Y Y
1 Matsunaga, Spark D Y Y N N
4 Derwinski, Edward R Y Y Y Y
5 Kluczynski, John D Y Y Y ?
8 Rostenkowski, Daniel D Y Y N N
10 Collier, Harold R Y Y Y Y
11 Pucinski, Roman D Y Y Y Y
12 McClory, Robert R Y Y N N
16 Anderson, John R Y Y N N
17 Arends, Leslie R Y Y Y Y
18 Michel, Robert R Y Y
20 Findley, Paul R Y Y Y Y
21 Gray, Kenneth D Y Y Y Y
22 Springer, William R Y Y
23 Shipley, George D ? Y Y Y
24 Price, Charles D Y Y N N
1 Madden, Ray D Y Y N N
3 Brademas, John D Y Y N N
4 Roush, John D Y Y N Y
6 Bray, William R Y Y Y Y
1 Schwengel, Fred R Y Y N N
3 Gross, Harold R N N Y Y
4 Kyl, John R Y Y Y Y
5 Smith, Neal D Y Y N N
4 Shriver, Garner R Y Y Y Y
5 Skubitz, Joe R Y Y Y Y
1 Stubblefield, Frank D N N Y Y
2 Natcher, William D N N Y Y
4 Snyder, Gene R N N Y Y
7 Perkins, Carl D Y Y N N
1 Hebert, Felix D N X ? ?
2 Boggs, Thomas D N N ? ?
4 Waggonner, Joseph D N N Y Y
5 Passman, Otto D N N
2 Long, Clarence D Y Y Y N
3 Garmatz, Edward D Y Y Y ?
1 Conte, Silvio R Y Y X X
2 Boland, Edward D Y Y N N
4 Donohue, Harold D Y Y N N
7 Macdonald, Torbert D Y Y Y N
8 O’Neill, Tip D Y Y N N
11 Burke, James D Y Y N N
12 Keith, Hastings R Y Y ? ?
4 Hutchinson, Edward R N Y Y Y
5 Ford, Gerald R Y Y Y Y
6 Chamberlain, Charles R Y Y Y Y
8 Harvey, James R Y Y Y Y
10 Cederberg, Al R Y Y Y Y
12 O’Hara, James D Y Y Y Y
13 Diggs, Charles D Y Y N N
14 Nedzi, Lucien D Y Y Y Y
16 Dingell, John D Y Y Y Y
17 Griffiths, Martha D Y Y Y Y
18 Broomfield, William R Y Y Y Y
1 Quie, Albert R Y Y Y Y
2 Nelsen, Ancher R Y Y Y Y
4 Karth, Joseph D Y N N
5 Fraser, Donald D Y Y N N
8 Blatnik, John D Y Y N ?
1 Abernethy, Thomas D N N
2 Whitten, Jamie D N N Y Y
5 Colmer, William D N N Y Y
3 Sullivan, Leonor D Y Y N Y
4 Randall, William D Y Y Y Y
5 Bolling, Richard D Y Y N N
6 Hull, William D N N
7 Hall, Durward R N N Y Y
8 Ichord, Richard D Y Y Y Y
3 Martin, David R Y Y Y Y
AL Baring, Walter D N N Y Y
1 Wyman, Louis R N N Y Y
4 Thompson, Frank D Y Y N N
5 Frelinghuysen, Peter R Y Y ? ?
7 Widnall, William R Y Y Y Y
10 Rodino, Peter D Y Y N N
11 Minish, Joseph D Y Y Y N
12 Dwyer, Florence R Y Y X X
13 Gallagher, Cornelius D Y Y ? ?
14 Daniels, Dominick D Y Y N N
15 Patten, Edward D Y Y Y N
1 Pike, Otis D Y Y Y N
2 Grover, James R Y Y Y Y
4 Wydler, John R Y Y Y N
6 Halpern, Seymour R Y Y Y Y
7 Addabbo, Joseph D Y Y N N
8 Rosenthal, Benjamin D Y Y N N
9 Delaney, James D Y Y Y Y
10 Celler, Emanuel D Y Y N N
14 Rooney, John D Y Y ? ?
15 Carey, Hugh D Y Y N N
16 Murphy, John D Y Y Y N
20 Ryan, William D Y Y X
26 Reid, Ogden D Y Y X X
29 Stratton, Samuel D Y Y N N
30 King, Carleton R Y Y Y Y
32 Pirnie, Alexander R Y Y Y Y
33 Robison, Howard R Y Y Y N
36 Horton, Frank R Y Y N N
41 Dulski, Thaddeus D Y Y Y Y
2 Fountain, Lawrence D N N Y Y
3 Henderson, David D N N Y Y
7 Lennon, Alton D N N
9 Jonas, Charles R N N Y Y
10 Broyhill, James R N N Y Y
11 Taylor, Roy D N N Y Y
1 Andrews, Mark R Y Y Y Y
2 Clancy, Donald R Y Y Y Y
4 McCulloch, William R Y Y Y N
5 Latta, Delbert R Y Y Y Y
6 Harsha, William R Y Y Y Y
8 Betts, Jackson R Y Y
9 Ashley, Thomas D Y Y N N
12 Devine, Samuel R Y Y Y Y
13 Mosher, Charles R Y Y N N
16 Bow, Frank R Y Y Y Y
17 Ashbrook, John R N N Y Y
18 Hays, Wayne D Y Y Y Y
22 Vanik, Charles D Y Y Y N
23 Minshall, William R Y Y Y Y
1 Belcher, Page R N N Y Y
2 Edmondson, Ed D Y Y ? ?
3 Albert, Carl D Y Y
4 Steed, Thomas D Y Y Y Y
5 Jarman, John D N N Y Y
2 Ullman, Albert D Y Y X X
3 Green, Edith D Y Y Y Y
1 Barrett, William D Y Y N N
2 Nix, Robert D Y Y N N
3 Byrne, James D Y Y N N
5 Green, William D Y N N
10 McDade, Joseph R Y Y Y N
11 Flood, Daniel D Y Y N Y
12 Whalley, John R Y Y Y Y
14 Moorhead, William D Y Y N N
15 Rooney, Frederick D Y Y Y N
17 Schneebeli, Herman R Y Y Y Y
19 Goodling, George R Y Y Y Y
21 Dent, John D Y Y Y N
22 Saylor, John R Y Y Y N
23 Johnson, Albert R Y Y Y Y
25 Clark, Frank D Y ? Y
26 Morgan, Thomas D Y Y N N
1 St. Germain, Fernand D Y Y N N
3 Dorn, William D N N ? ?
6 McMillan, James D N N ? ?
1 Quillen, James R N N Y Y
4 Evins, Joseph D N N Y Y
5 Fulton, Richard D Y Y Y Y
1 Patman, Wright D N N ? Y
2 Dowdy, John D N N ? ?
4 Roberts, Herbert D N N Y Y
6 Teague, Olin D N N Y Y
9 Brooks, Jack D Y Y Y Y
11 Pickle, James D Y Y Y Y
11 Poage, William D N N Y Y
12 Wright, James D N N Y Y
13 Purcell, Graham D N N Y Y
14 Young, John D N N Y Y
17 Burleson, Omar D N N Y Y
19 Mahon, George D N N Y Y
20 Gonzalez, Henry D Y Y N N
21 Fisher, Ovie D N N Y Y
22 Casey, Robert D N N Y Y
2 Lloyd, Sherman R Y Y Y
1 Downing, Thomas D N N Y Y
4 Abbitt, Watkins D N N Y Y
6 Poff, Richard R N N Y Y
10 Broyhill, Joel R N N Y Y
1 Pelly, Thomas R Y
3 Hansen, Julia D Y Y ? ?
2 Staggers, Harley D Y Y N Y
3 Slack, John D Y Y Y Y
4 Hechler, Kenneth D Y Y N N
2 Kastenmeier, Robert D Y Y N N
3 Thomson, Vernon R Y Y Y Y
4 Zablocki, Clement D Y Y Y Y
5 Reuss, Henry D Y Y N N
8 Byrnes, John R Y Y Y Y
10 O’Konski, Alvin R Y Y Y


Seventy-one legislators who voted or paired favorably on both Civil Rights Act of 1964 votes also voted or paired favorably on anti-busing amendments. Forty-eight legislators voted or paired against both Civil Rights Act of 1964 votes and voted or paired favorably on anti-busing amendments. To paint opposition as primarily an exercise in racism appears to be a distortion of where many stood on race: there was a large group of legislators who were willing to pass comprehensive federal legislation to end de jure (in law) racial segregation and provide remedies for other ills of racism while drawing the line at countering de facto (in fact) segregation through busing.

People can speculate about “hidden” motivations behind people’s opinions so as to make charges of racism unfalsifiable, but to me votes are the most solid proof of where someone stands on an issue. From my studies on voting behavior, I can conclude that unless there is damn good reason to believe otherwise, votes by default should be taken at face value as statements of ideology. As for Joe Biden, he had on many other occasions voted for civil rights legislation, including Voting Rights Act extensions, strengthening fair housing laws in 1988, and the Civil Rights Act of 1991. In my view, he had good reason to oppose busing as the policy was intrusive, coercive, disrupted communities, wasn’t accomplishing what it set out to do, and overrode the will of parents in the name of a social experiment.

The Senate Filibuster: A Matter of Cloture

A subject of controversy today, as it has been in the 102 years since the Senate adopted the cloture rule, is the nature of the filibuster and how the Senate addresses them. The Senate is, by the intention of the founders, to be the chamber that empowers the political minority. Thus, the political minority requires some tools at their disposal to frustrate the majority.

The Cloture Rule: War, Power, Civil Rights, and Liberalism

War has been known throughout human history to produce technological innovations, and, as it turns out, legislative ones as well. In 1917, twelve anti-war senators succeeded in killing legislation through filibustering that would have permitted merchant vessels to carry arms in response to the German resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare. The Senate subsequently adopted the cloture rule (Rule 22): that a filibuster could be ended if 2/3’s of present senators voted to end debate. This rule worked quite well for its time and purpose: the revolt of the anti-war senators was put down and the Allies prevailed.  Filibusters were not that common in the next three decades, but Senator Huey Long of Louisiana did conduct numerous solo filibusters against legislation he believed helped the rich and harmed the poor. However, his longest and most famous one was to maintain his own political power: to require the Senate to confirm the most senior employees of the National Recovery Administration so he could prevent his enemies in the state from getting these jobs.

In 1949, the cloture rule was strengthened in two ways: first, cloture applied to judicial nominations and second, it was no longer 2/3’s of present senators, but 2/3’s of all serving senators. One of the most famous victims of the filibuster was civil rights legislation. Any legislation of the sort until 1957 died to the filibuster even though a majority of senators repeatedly favored civil rights legislation. It was the mostly toothless Civil Rights Act of 1957 that was subjected to the longest solo filibuster in the Senate’s history. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, at that time still a Democrat, spoke on the floor for 24 hours and 18 minutes against the measure. It wasn’t until 1964 that a powerful civil rights law won a cloture vote, ensuring its passage. This was also only the second time cloture had been invoked since 1927.

Senator Strom Thurmond, shortly after setting the record for the longest solo filibuster in Senate history.

The filibuster was a powerful tool but only used for legislation that was most strongly objected to because it held up all other Senate business. This, however, would change. In 1970, the Senate, on the initiative of Majority Leader Mike Mansfield (D-Mont.) and Majority Whip Robert Byrd (D-W.V.) altered the rule to allow two tracks of legislation to proceed, so that Senate business could continue. What this development gave rise to was blocking legislation by mere threat of a filibuster. Thus, “silent” filibusters have increasingly rendered controversial legislation having to be passed by 60 votes.  Progressives of both parties also tried to reduce the threshold to 3/5’s to easier pass their preferred legislation. The 1974 midterms changed a lot in how American politics functioned: the power of Southern Democrats over committees was broken, the House Committee on Un-American Activities was abolished, the Democratic Party grew more liberal, and in the Senate the effort by liberal Walter Mondale (D-Minn.) and moderate James B. Pearson (R-Kan.) succeeded as the filibuster threshold was reduced from 2/3’s to 3/5’s majority. Although this rules change didn’t stop filibusters and some legislation continued to be blocked, without this change Obamacare wouldn’t have passed, or the Democrats would have just lowered the threshold before passing.

The Fall of the Judicial Filibuster

During the second Bush Administration, he and the Republicans were trying to shift the federal judiciary to the right and Democrats did their best to block the more ideological nominees, particularly ten nominees which gave rise to the threat of Senator Trent Lott (R-Miss.) to invoke the “nuclear option”, or the elimination of the filibuster on judicial nominees altogether. The 2004 election produced a 55-45 majority for Republicans, making the “nuclear option” more likely. The situation, however, was diffused by an agreement between seven Republican and seven Democratic senators in 2005, a group that would become known as the “Gang of 14”.  The seven Democrats agreed to vote for cloture on judicial nominations except in extraordinary circumstances and the seven Republicans agreed in turn to not vote for the “nuclear option”. This resulted in the confirmation of five of the ten contested nominees. However, this truce would not last.

The parties would find their roles reversed under President Obama, with majority Democrats under Harry Reid threatening to invoke the nuclear option while Republicans, wanting to prevent the federal judiciary from being shifted to the left, sought to maintain the judicial filibuster. Ultimately, on November 22, 2013, Majority Leader Harry Reid invoked the “nuclear option” on all nominees except for the Supreme Court, thus these nominations would be majority vote. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell predicted that the Democrats would regret this action, and in 2017, by a purely party-line vote, the nuclear option was extended to the Supreme Court so Neil Gorsuch could be confirmed. This included the three remaining “Gang of 14” Senators: John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Susan Collins.


Today, cloture, a rule that was originally devised to speed up the legislative process, remains at 3/5’s majority for legislation. The increased use of the filibuster (or silent filibusters) has been evidence of a change in political culture rather than a defect with the concept of cloture itself. After all, to satisfy the intentions of the founders the Senate must remain the chamber of (political) minority power and debate. I suspect, however, that the changes to the cloture rule will not end with the cessation of the judicial filibuster and I think this will prove to be the case when the time comes that the Democrats win back the Senate.

John J. Sparkman – A Conflicted Progressive

The 1936 election produced a Congress that constituted the height of Democratic power in the 20th Century. One of the new members of the House was John J. Sparkman (1899-1985) of Alabama’s 8th district. He was a progressive who supported the New Deal, but like Southerners of his time, he had his limits. One of them was the willingness of the national Democratic Party to embrace strong labor unions. Although Sparkman had voted for legislation favorable to labor such as the Fair Labor Standards Act, he supported curbing wartime strikes through the Smith-Connally Act, which passed over President Roosevelt’s veto. By 1946, he had become a popular and effective member, resulting in him serving as House Majority Whip. Another opportunity opened for him as Senator John Bankhead passed away, and in the November election Sparkman was elected to the seat. Although he couldn’t campaign too close to President Truman because of his civil rights policies, he nonetheless proved staunchly loyal to his policies and played a major role in the passage of Administration-backed public housing legislation. He made exceptions by opposing civil rights and supporting Senator McCarran’s Internal Security Act. Sparkman also was a staunch opponent of Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-Wis.) and in 1954 voted to censure him.

He Did Not Like Ike

In 1952, Sparkman was nominated for Vice President on the Democratic ticket, the last segregationist to be on the ticket of a major party. However, he did tell a black journalist that if elected, he would become “another Hugo Black” (Webb). Sparkman was suggesting, that like fellow Alabamian Black, his positions on race were motivated by catering to white voters of the state as opposed to personal belief.

In 1955, he condemned Eisenhower’s economic policies as “trickle-down economics” that favored bankers and business over the common people and staunchly opposed free market reforms to agriculture pushed by Agriculture Secretary Ezra Taft Benson. In 1956, Sparkman signed the Southern Manifesto expressing opposition to Brown v. Board of Education (1954) and desegregation as did every member of Alabama’s delegation.

Space Travel and Senator Sparkman

Senator Sparkman was a staunch supporter of research into space flight and was instrumental in getting the proposed Marshall Space Flight Center to be located in Huntsville, Alabama. This was where for twenty years the famous rocket scientist Wernher von Braun led development of missiles and the Saturn V rocket, which would for the send men to the moon for the first time in history.

Sparkman in the Sixties

The 1960s constituted a change for the nation and Sparkman was no exception. In the early 1960s he stood as a staunch supporter of the Kennedy Administration and helped pass the Housing Act of 1961, which expanded public housing. He also provided crucial support for LBJ’s Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964, which provided federal grants to states for mass transit. However, Sparkman’s commitment to New Deal progressivism was waning: his Americans for Constitutional Action (ACA) score had been a 12% in the 87th Congress, but in 1969 he scored a 64%, and his record hit a conservative high in the following decade with a score of 80% in 1972. Sparkman’s turn rightward was motivated by three factors. First, his colleague and ideological compatriot Lister Hill was almost defeated for reelection in 1962 by a Republican, resulting in him declining another term. Second was the rising popularity of segregationist demagogue Governor George Wallace who frequently butted heads with the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations. Third was his staunch hawkishness on the Vietnam War.

The Seventies and the End

Sparkman’s conservative turn largely proved temporary, as his conservatism waned after his 1972 reelection. In 1977, he became Alabama’s longest serving senator in history, a record that would not be beaten until March 3, 2019 by Republican Richard Shelby. As chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 1975 to 1979, he backed the Carter Administration’s Panama Canal Treaties, which was met with furious conservative opposition. In his late seventies by this time, age had taxed Sparkman significantly and many observers thought his leadership of the committee to be lacking. Reading the writing on the wall, he retired from politics in 1979.

John J. Sparkman, whose federal career had started in the days of the Depression, ended in the days of disco, and aided in America’s debut with the Moon, died on November 16, 1985.


John J. Sparkman: A Featured Biography. U.S. Senate.

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Webb, S.L. John J. Sparkman. Encyclopedia of Alabama.

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James L. Buckley: The Conservative Enigma of New York



By the 1960s, conservatives among New York Republicans were growing irritated with their party for backing people for office who were basically “me too” Republicans, or as they would be known today, RINOs (Republicans in Name Only). The greatest offenders for them were Governor Nelson Rockefeller (hence the old term “Rockefeller Republican”), Senator Jacob Javits, and New York City Mayor John Lindsay. In their frustration, some broke off and formed the Conservative Party and their most notable candidates were the Buckley brothers. William F. Buckley Jr., the late founder of the conservative publication National Review and host of PBS’s “Firing Line”, ran a quixotic campaign for mayor in 1965 to serve as a conservative alternative between the Republican candidate Lindsay and the Democrat candidate Abraham Beame, both liberals. Although this campaign was unsuccessful at winning, Buckley did succeed in getting attention. In 1968, Buckley’s older brother, James L. Buckley (1923- ), ran for the Senate against Jacob Javits but lost decisively. In 1970, however, opportunity knocked.

After the assassination of Senator Bobby Kennedy, Governor Rockefeller appointed Congressman Charles Goodell to serve out the remainder of his term. Goodell was a moderate conservative, effectively representing how people in his upstate district felt on politics. However, when he was promoted to the Senate, his record began to mirror that of Jacob Javits. Goodell became a staunch liberal and a vocal opponent of the Vietnam War, coming into direct conflict with the Nixon Administration. Vice President Spiro Agnew publicly stated that he was the “Christine Jorgensen (a famous transsexual) of the Republican Party” (Cannon). Goodell wrote off the conservative vote for the 1970 election, trying to win moderates and liberals. This would have been fine had the Democrats not chosen to run their own candidate, Congressman Richard Ottinger. The Conservative Party once again picked James Buckley. Goodell campaigned boldly, his campaign claiming he was “Too good to lose!” In a campaign ad, he referred to Ottinger as the “lightweight” and Buckley as the “dead weight”. The former for his lack of legislative achievements and the latter for his rightist economic philosophy. The Nixon Administration surreptitiously favored Buckley, whose slogan was “Isn’t it time we had a senator?” (Gizzi) Thanks to a split liberal vote, Buckley won the election while Goodell came in third.

While in the Senate, Buckley proved as conservative as you could be for New York at the time. He was particularly notable for his opposition to campaign finance laws. Buckley led a group that included former Senator Eugene McCarthy (D-Minn.) that successfully contested the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 in the Supreme Court in the landmark case of Buckley v. Valeo (1976), which found expenditure limits for campaigns to be unconstitutional restrictions on speech while upholding some contribution limits. He, along with Senator Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), was at the forefront of opposition to the decision Roe v. Wade (1973), and proposed a constitutional amendment granting human embryos 14th Amendment protections as legal persons. In 1972, he was one of only eight senators to vote against the Equal Rights Amendment, the chief rationale for opposition among its opponents being that it would make women eligible for the draft. The most notable exception Buckley made in his conservatism was to support the New York City bailout in 1975, a position taken by every single federally elected official from his state. In 1976, Senator Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), stunned by Ronald Reagan’s choice of running mate as liberal Senator Richard Schweiker (R-Penn.), pushed for him to choose Buckley instead. Initially, his opponent for reelection in 1976 looked to be Rep. Bella Abzug, a radical leftist who was likely to lose. However, the more moderate UN Ambassador Dan Moynihan entered the primary, defeated Abzug, and went on to defeat Buckley for reelection.

He tried to rejoin the Senate in 1980 when he ran against Connecticut Democratic Senator Christopher Dodd, but lost. He subsequently served as the head of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty under President Reagan and then served as a federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia until he assumed senior status in 1996, retiring in 2000. In 2014, Buckley wrote Saving Congress from Itself: Emancipating the States & Empowering Their People, in which he argued that grants-in-aid to states constituted bribery and coercion and should be ended. He commented upon the 2016 election that although he offered no endorsement, that he considered the choices of Trump and Clinton to be “too depressing to contemplate” and expressed doubt that his late younger brother or President Reagan (who he personally knew) would have approved of Trump (Doyle). At age 96, Buckley is still alive at the time of this writing and he approves of Trump’s domestic policy and judicial appointments but is concerned about his foreign policy. He stands as the last truly conservative politician to be elected to the Senate from New York and the only member of New York’s Conservative Party to have won federal office.


Cannon, C.M. (2015, June 3). Jenner’s Trail was Blazed by Christine Jorgensen. Real Clear Politics.

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Doyle, W. (2016, September 8). James Buckley on 2016: ‘I am an unhappy man’: Column. USA Today.

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Gizzi, J. Former Sen. Jim Buckley, 96, Still ‘Champion of America'”. Newsmax.

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