The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Friday, February 11, 2005

Roll Calls on Repression

The Voteview gizmo beckons once more.

Skimming through Robert Dallek's Kennedy bio, and getting to his Red-baiting phase, I'm naturally curious to see what the gizmo says about the Kennedy's voting record on the subject.

First, curiosity draws me to the Smith Act voting - to find that it passed on a voice vote in the Senate [1].

Moving on to the Kennedy era, he first had an opportunity to make his voting mark (so far as I can tell) on July 15 1947 in the vote on passage of HR 3813, the Loyalty Act - that made a pair with Truman's Executive Order 9835 which set up the Loyalty Board - and gave a Lake Superior-ful of legitimacy to Nixon, McCarthy, McCarran - and Kennedy - when it came to hollering Commie.

The vote was 319-61, Dems 102-52, GOP 217-8. The list Dems voting against was hardly limited to liberal usual suspects [2]; the wild mountainy men of Tennessee, Gore and Kefauver and playboy of Harlem Adam Clayton Powell are there. But so also is Sam Rayburn, for crying out loud! (No vote recorded for Lyndon Johnson, by the way.)

The entire Mass Dem delegation voted for, including the boy Kennedy. The only Mass nay came from a Republican (Heselton).

The McCarran Act veto override (September 22 1950) saw another JFK yea [3]; none of the Dem nays [4] save Powell ring a bell.

The last hurrah of Red-baiting laws, the Communist Control Act of 1954 (S 3706), passed 79-0 in the Senate on August 19 1954, with even Hubert Humphrey joining JFK in casting a vote for.

When Al Franken - who's chickened out of fighting the open Senate seat in Minnesota in 2006, I see - waxes lyrical about the liberal traditions of his home state, he mentions Humphrey, but not that CCA vote of his.

Funny, that.

On Kennedy, that's the easy part. Finding a marker vote for a slide to liberalism on civil liberties a trickier task. My suspicion is that it may be a vote on August 21 1958, when he voted for a motion to recommit S 654 (a bill to allow the states to enact laws barring subversive activities) - which passed 41-40, thus killing the bill.

  1. According to this paper - confirming my not being able to find any likely vote. The bill number was HR 5138 (76th), by the way.

  2. Insofar as I can identify them: working the Senate is much easier, recognition-wise.

  3. The veto message; the bill was HR 9490, the Internal Security Act.

  4. The box score: 286-48; Dems 160-44; GOP 126-2. Javits of New York was a nay in this vote and the 1947 one.

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