« AnteriorContinuar »
tional violence that results from "civil rights" activities in the South. This title is being presented by its proponents as a “law to protect civil rights workers" -no more and no less.
Mr. Chairman, this is no mere “law to protect civil rights workers." It is more than that. It is much less.
First, it is much less, because it is so dependent on a determination of the exact motive that led to the criminal act. In the case of the murdered Mrs. Liuzzo, for example, if the defense could establish that the murderers did not know who the victim was, it could argue that none of the motives specified in this title could apply to the crime that Mrs. Liuzzo was murdered simply because she was a white woman in intimate association with a black man. As we read this title, such a motive is not covered by the act, and a conviction under this law could not take place.
Even with the passage of this title, there will continue to be acts of violence committed in which a conviction is utterly impossible because of the necessity of proving motive "beyond a shadow of a doubt." This, in turn, is going to lead to increased feelings of pure frustration and disappointment with a law that promised so much, and yet can deliver no more than human beings are capable of delivering. You cannot legislate into being an ability to read the human heart and mind. Yet, that is necessary if you are to fulfill the promise of this proposed title.
And this title is much more than a "law to protect civil rights workers.” This is an act to create an entire new criminal code for enforcement by the Attorney General as he sees fit. Far more than "civil rights" is involved in title V.
For example, the Supreme Court of California has declared, in the case of Mulkey v. Reitman, that so-called "fair housing" is a constitutional right. What good will it do this Congress to decide that title IV of this act should not pass, when it is quite probable, that if the U.S. Supreme Court upholds the California court, then under section 501(a)(5) of title V,"fair housing" can be enforced by the Attorney General as though title IV had passed, but with even harsher penalties?
And what are the union members of the Nation going to think of title V when it is applied to enforce the right of anyone, whether or not a member of the union, to the privilege of union membership? The possibility for abuse of title V is real and sure. Liberty Lobby feels That it should not be passed.
Senator Ervin. Is it not well recognized that, under the first amendment, the American people have a right to freedom of association?
Mr. Hicks. I have always thought so, sir, but I am not a constitutional expert.
Senator Ervin. Does not this law undertake to annul the right of freedom of association by compelling the association on the part of people who may not be willing to associate with each other? Mr. Hicks. Yes, sir, titles IV and V both do this.
Senator Ervin. We have in North Carolina a very distinguished Negro who was one of the founders of the largest insurance companies that operated and grew among the members of that race, and he has
said on occasion that if a man wants to drink from a cool spring on top of a mountain, he must climb to the top of the mountain to do so. Is not one of the defects in this so-called civil rights bill the fact that it will impart in politicians, also very sincere people as well as politicians, and in the minds of people of the minority race, a conviction that they can have their way legislated into social and economic and other heavens?
Mr. Hicks. Exactly. This is the most dangerous aspect of civil rights legislation.
Senator Ervin. A person who takes the position that any group of men or any race can legislate their way to the top of the mountain without climbing up there, is either fooling himself or trying to fool somebody else, is he not?
Mr. HICKS. Yes, sir.
Senator Ervin. And the truth of it is that men of any race can only make a position for themselves in society by their own self-exertion and their own efforts, and there is no other way. There is no way that the Government can transport them to such positions, is there?
Mr. Hicks. Only when it does so at the expense of someone else. There have been persons in and out of government who have gotten rich through government, yes, sir; but only by virtue of taking it away from someone else.
Senator ERVIN. The American government as we now know it was founded upon the idea that all men should stand equal before the law, is that not true?
Mr. HICKS. As I understand it, yes, sir.
Senator Ervin. And bills of this nature, which are passed for the benefit of one segment of our society, destroy instead of promoting equality, in that they give certain special privileges to one group of people at the expense of the rights of other people. Is that not true?
Mr. Hicks. Yes, sir; and I would like to call your attention to an aspect of this statement that is found in title V, wherein we find the attempt to create a new Federal criminal code which overlooks many of the more common criminal acts of people. In other words, there are many criminal acts such as rape, robbery, purse snatching, that are not covered by this title and yet there are many, many people who would dearly love to see it possible for the FBI to be called in instantly on an interracial rape, for example. But that is not covered by this title.
Senator ERVIN. Well, the truth of it is that this title indicates that the Federal Government is not too much concerned about crimes in general, no matter how atrocious they may be, but only crimes actuated by a certain motive.
Mr. Hicks. And only when certain people have this mental intent. In other words, I feel that many crimes committed on whites by Negroes are also racial crimes, but they are not covered by this title.
Senator Ervin. Now, is it not true that, under title V, motivation is the primary ingredient rather than external acts?
Mr. Hicks. Yes, sir. In fact, this is the major fault that we find with this whole section, that it depends so much upon proof of motivation, and this is our point, that you cannot legislate into a judge's mind or a jury's mind the ability to discern what is the true intent or motivating purpose behind the act of a person who commits a crime.
There are many persons, I am sure, who have committed atrocious racial crimes in the South about whom none of the motivations herein outlined would apply. I named the Liuzzo case as an example, where it is quite likely that Mrs. Liuzzo was not murdered because she was attempting to register voters, but was murdered simply because she was there with a Negro. Yet that is not covered in this title at all.
Senator ERVIN. And under title V the accused would have to be acquitted no matter how atrocious the offense was, if the particular statutory motivation did not exist ?
Mr. Hicks. Well, not being a legal expert, sir, I cannot say with great certainly, but Í believe that is the case.
Senator Ervin. Yes. Well, what you said about the nature of these provisions calls to mind something in the Scriptures. As I recall they say that man judges by outward appearances, but God looketh upon the heart. Title V would make the guilt of the man depend upon the condition of the heart rather than external things, would it not?
Mr. Hicks. Yes, sir, and it is this attempt of man to play GodGod says, love thy neighbor, so now man is saying, love thy neighbor. And if you do not have love in your heart for your neighbor, man is going to punish you for it. This is the whole principle behind these bills.
Senator Ervin. And it is a very difficult thing for man to be able to judge the contents of another man's mind or another man's heart, is it not?
Mr. Hicks. History shows that every time a people has attempted to play God, they have ended up on their face.
Senator ERVIN. On behalf of the subcommittee, I thank you for your appearance here in expressing the views of Liberty Lobby in respect to this pending legislation.
We will recess until 10:30 Friday morning.
(Whereupon, at 3:45 p.m., the subcommittee was in recess, to reconvene on Friday, June 24, 1966, at 10:30 a.m.)
FRIDAY, JUNE 24, 1966
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met, pursuant to recess, at 2 p.m., in room 2228, New Senate Office Building, Senator Sam J. Ervin, Jr., presiding.
Present: Senator Ervin (presiding).
Also present: George Autry, chief counsel and staff director; Houston Groome, Lawrence M. Baskir and Lewis W. Evans, counsel; and Rufus Edmisten, research assistant.
Senator ERVIN. The subcommittee will come to order. Counsel will call the first witness.
Mr. AUTRY. The first witness is Mr. G. V. Viele, president of the Wisconsin Realtors Association. His appearance was scheduled at the request of Senator Proxmire and Senator Nelson.
Would you identify for the record the gentlemen accompanying you.
STATEMENT OF G. R. VIELE, PRESIDENT, WISCONSIN REALTORS
ASSOCIATION, MADISON, WIS.; ACCOMPANIED BY EARL A. ESPESETH, PRESIDENT-ELECT AND CHAIRMAN OF THE LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE; AND DARWIN SCOON, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT
Mr. VIELE. Mr. Darwin B. Scoon, executive vice president of the Wisconsin Realtors Association of Madison, Wis., and Earl Espeseth, the president-elect of the Wisconsin Realtors Association, also of Madison.
Senator Ervin. Gentlemen, on behalf of the subcommittee I want to thank you for making your appearance and giving the subcommittee the benefit of your views on title IV.
Mr. VIELE. Thank you for the opportunity.
Mr. Chairman, members of the subcommittee, my name is G. R. "Bob" Viele and I am a realtor doing business in Wausau, Wis. I have been a licensed real estate broker for over 16 years. As president of the Wisconsin Realtors Association, I convened a special meeting of our board of directors for the purpose of ascertaining their position regarding title IV of S. 3296.
I have a unanimous authorization from our directors who represent 30 boards and 2,178 members to appear here today in opposition to title IV of S. 3296.
Wisconsin has a so-called fair housing law. It was passed by our legislature in the fall of 1965 and signed by the Governor December 19, 1965.
In that fair housing law, Wisconsin legislators took a different approach than the one indicated in title IV of S. 3296 by stating that "It is the intent of this act to render unlawful discrimination in housing where the sale, rental or lease of the housing constitutes a business." While the business of housing is not defined, the legislators gave partial recognition to the human right of a property owner to sell and rent to persons of his own choosing by exempting single family dwellings up through four unit dwellings if one of the units is owner occupied.
We feel the legislature compromised the right of a person to the peaceful enjoyment of his property by labeling dwellings as "a business." Nevertheless, the exemption is recognition of the proposition that basic to personal liberty, is each man's right in private life to accept, reject, associate with or disassociate from his fellow men. Further recognition of this principle is contained in the State law by the exemption of roominghouses where the building is occupied by the owner and single rooms are rented to four or less individuals.
I think it is important to emphasize that Wisconsin, in passing this restrictive legislation, recognized that homeowners do have inalienable rights.
Discrimination is obviously a matter of conscience. This legislation, in essence, is an attempt at conscience control. We feel that conscience cannot be "legislated.” We don't see how any government can legislate morality unless the convictions of its citizens are in agreement with the moral issue involved. The Volstead Act is a good example of that.
In Wisconsin, churchmen were in the forefront in advocating forced housing laws. We posed this question to them:
Does your leadership for, and advocacy of, forced occupancy laws come from a sense of frustration because of your inability to inspire your congregations to accept voluntarily open housing policies?
In other words, having failed in the pulpit do you now seek to impose your point of view on your congregations and all other through harsh repressive legislative measures? What basis have you for believing that a law will sueceed where your leadership failed?
If we are considering moral issues, where should the burden of proof be? According to the legislation in question, the burden of proof rests on the defendant-homeowner and the homeowner is guilty until he can prove his innocence. Let me illustrate: If a member of a minority group complains that he was refused housing, the presumption is that the refusal is based on religion, race, or national origin. The defendant homeowner must then prove that he refused to rent for a reason other than race, religion, or national origin; and there are other reasons for refusing—lack of finances, children, pets, and so forth.
At this point someone would have to make a determination, or a guess, as to what the defendant homeowner was thinking when the refusal took place. How could anyone evaluate a state of mind? How would you try to answer this problem? The proposed legislation asks others to do so.