The Civil Rights Act of 1964: The Passage of the Law That Ended Racial Segregation

By Hubert H. Humphrey; Joseph L. Rauh Jr. et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 6
The Civil Rights Act of 1964: Strategy

John G. Stewart

Pro-civil rights senators worked very hard to develop a strategy for defeating the expected southern filibuster of the House-passed civil rights bill. The major leader in this effort was Senator Hubert H. Humphrey of Minnesota, the Democratic whip, ably assisted by his Republican counterpart, Senator Thomas H. Kuchel of California. In this next section of his doctoral dissertation, John Stewart details how the strategy for passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in the Senate was debated and developed. 1

The events of 1957, 1960, and 1962 illustrated the obstacles which the filibuster, or even the threat of a filibuster, imposed upon the Senate in considering civil rights legislation, and the difficulties faced by the senatorial party leaders, particularly the majority leader, in overcoming these obstacles. These earlier battles had revealed the leadership's preference for passing major substantive amendments, or for abandoning the legislation, as the way to free the Senate from the southern Democratic filibuster. In 1964, however, the sentiment in the House of Representatives to reject any significant dilution of the bill by the Senate, coupled with President Johnson's blanket endorsement of the House-passed bill, seemed to foreclose any strategy based on the earlier patterns of the well-timed and substantial compromise.

What strategy did Majority Leader Mansfield devise in these circumstances? For as much as he might have wished otherwise, the Senate had to consider civil rights, the one

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