Civil Rights and “No Knock” Warrants

A major subject of discussion as of late (aside from that painful debate) lately has been the use of “no knock” warrants, which has been brought on by the accidental police killing of Breonna Taylor. Since Taylor was black, this has entered the public consciousness as a civil rights issue. The interesting thing is, though, that in 1970 the lines of support and opposition regarding civil rights and “no knock” warrants for drug seizures (the officers were “no knocking” on a drug case when they accidentally shot Taylor) were not necessarily what you’d expect. So, once again, I am conducting some comparative politics. For this, I will compare the votes on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Ervin proposal to strike “no knock” warrants from a crime bill, which was defeated 40-44 on January 27, 1970. Bear in mind, some states are not represented in my comparison, such as Alaska, California, Illinois, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Virginia as all of these states had different senators in 1970 than in 1964, and none of these senators had previously been representatives, thus those states’ senators are not part of this comparison.

There are four groups here:

Opposed Civil Rights Act of 1964, Opposed “No Knock” Warrants for Drug Seizures:

Democrats: 8

Sparkman (AL), Fulbright (AR), Holland (FL), Eastland (MS), Stennis (MS), Ervin (NC), Jordan (NC), Gore (TN)

Republicans: 0

Opposed Civil Rights Act of 1964, Supported “No Knock” Warrants for Drug Seizures:

Democrats: 6

McClellan (AR), Russell (GA), Talmadge (GA), Ellender (LA), Long (LA), Byrd (WV)

Republicans: 4

Gurney (FL), Cotton (NH), Thurmond (SC), Tower (TX)

Supported Civil Rights Act of 1964, Supported “No Knock” Warrants for Drug Seizures:

Democrats: 9

Dodd (CT), Mansfield (MT), Bible (NV), Cannon (NV), McIntyre (NH), Montoya (NM), Pastore (RI), Jackson (WA), Magnuson (WA)

Republicans: 19

Allott (CO), Dominick (CO), Boggs (DE), Williams (DE), Fong (HI), Jordan (ID), Miller (IA), Dole (KS), Pearson (KS), Smith (ME), Griffin (MI), Curtis (NE), Hruska (NE), Young (ND), Schweiker (PA), Scott (PA), Mundt (SD), Bennett (UT), Aiken (VT)

Supported Civil Rights Act of 1964, Opposed “No Knock” Warrants for Drug Seizures:

Democrats: 20

Ribicoff (CT), Inouye (HI), Church (ID), Muskie (ME), Kennedy (MA), Hart (MI), McCarthy (MN), Symington (MO), Metcalf (MT), Williams (NJ), Anderson (NM), Burdick (ND), Young (OH), Pell (RI), Yarborough (TX), Moss (UT), Randolph (WV), Nelson (WI), Proxmire (WI), McGee (WY)

Republicans: 4

Cooper (KY), Mathias (MD), Case (NJ), Goodell (NY)

Most Prevalent Democrat and Republican Positions and the Southern Split

The most common position among Democrats was what you would think: 20 supported the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and opposed “No Knock”. Among Republicans, the most common was both support the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and support “No Knock”, with 19 senators voting this way. What is quite interesting is how “No Knock” divided Southern Democrats who voted on the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Nine opposed “No Knock” and of the nine, only one voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. All five of the Southern Democrats who supported “No Knock” opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This southern split can be at least in part be attributed to the leadership on this issue of North Carolina’s Sam Ervin, who commanded great respect with his legal and debating abilities…I mean…he got both of Mississippi’s senators to vote against through his talk about the home being a man’s castle. The leading Senate backer of “No Knock”, incidentally, was Robert Griffin of Michigan, who had voted for the 1960s civil rights laws. Politics isn’t as simple as it seems on first glance.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s