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The Truth about the Dixiecrats What they were about.
National Review ^ | Dec 16,2002 | Dave Kopel

Posted on 12/16/2002 8:12:18 AM PST by Kay Soze

December 16, 2002 9:40 a.m. The Truth about the Dixiecrats What they were about.

http://www.nationalreview.com/script/printpage.asp?ref=/kopel/kopel121602.asp

Besides segregation, what was in the 1948 platform of the states-rights' Democratic party? On the Larry King's CNN show, Senator Lott said that Strom Thurmond would have been a good president because he would have made a strong national defense and a balanced budget priorities. Let's take a look at the official Dixiecrat platform, as published in the reference book National Party Platforms.To start with, there's nothing about national defense or the budget.

By far the largest portion of the Dixiecrat platform is an extensive endorsement of states' rights. This defense was couched in strongly stated appeals to constitutional values, such as "the constitutional right to choose one's associates; to accept private employment without governmental interference, and to earn one's living in any lawful way." Yet state segregation laws interfered with all these rights, and with the Constitution.

Jim Crow laws forbade interracial marriage. They imposed segregation on private business such as trains, trolleys, restaurants, hotels, boarding houses, and theaters. For example, some states made it a crime for a black barber to cut a white woman's hair. Some of the businesses covered by Jim Crow laws would have segregated anyway, but some would not have bothered, and the laws which Governor Thurmond was attempting to shield from federal interference were laws which interfered with the rights of business to choose how to serve their customers, and likewise interfered with the rights of customers to choose businesses.

The Dixiecrats were also angry that Truman, like Franklin Roosevelt, fervently supported union rights — another important element of "the constitutional right to choose one's associates."

There were five major sections of the Dixiecrat platform, one of which denounced "proposed FBI powers," and featured frantic warnings that the Democrats and Republicans both wanted to impose a totalitarian police state. In the platform's final section, "New Policy," two of the eight platform items further condemned "the effort to establish nation-wide a police state in this republic." (The Smoking Gun has an online version of the final section; TSG's version is from a state convention, and differs in some small ways from the final section of the official platform.)

Now if Senators Thurmond and Lott had adhered to this particular language of the 1948 platform, things might indeed be better in this country. But to the contrary, the Dixiecrat concerns about a police state appear to have existed solely in the context for federal efforts to secure civil rights for black people.

No senator outdid Strom Thurmond in the 1960s for outraged denunciation of the Supreme Court's strict enforcement of the criminal-procedure provisions of the Bill of Rights. In 2000, he and his staff were leading advocates of a proposal to allow government agents to conduct secret searches without obtaining search warrants.

In 1973-74, it was revealed that the Nixon White House had engaged in numerous police-state tactics, illegally attempting to use the IRS, the FBI, and the CIA against the president's political opponents. Article Two of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee's Articles of Impeachment summarized these offenses. Yet first-term Republican Representative Trent Lott voted against this Article of Impeachment.

He likewise voted against the first Article of Impeachment, based on President Nixon's cover-up and obstruction of the Watergate investigation. Hypocritically, he later voted to impeach President Clinton for obstruction of justice and perjury — although the Clinton offenses had occurred in the context of a private civil-rights lawsuit, whereas Nixon had been obstructing a criminal investigation about a presidential election.

After the House Judiciary Committee had reported the Articles of Impeachment, an unanimous Supreme Court decision forced the Nixon White House to release several of the tapes which Nixon had secretly recorded. The tapes proved Nixon's guilt of obstruction of justice beyond any doubt. Senate Republican leaders who had staunchly defended Nixon, such as Barry Goldwater and John Tower, decided that the president could no longer hold office. With Nixon's guilt certain, the White House found that only two senators were still certain to vote against impeaching the criminal president. Strom Thurmond was one of them.

Like Lott, Thurmond inconsistently voted to impeach President Clinton.

Thurmond bolted the 1948 Democratic Convention after Minneapolis Mayor Hubert Horatio Humphrey won a floor fight to amend the Platform to strengthen the civil-rights language. Humphrey's Amendment read:

We highly commend President Harry S. Truman for his courageous stand on the issue of civil rights.

We call upon the Congress to support our President in guaranteeing these basic and fundamental American Principles: (1) the right to full and equal political participation; (2) the right to equal opportunity of employment; (3) the right to security of person; (4) and the right of equal treatment in the service and defense of our nation.

That's why Thurmond ran for president. A principled advocate of small government could, as Barry Goldwater did, oppose the second item as applied to federal control of private employment. But every other item was a straightforward application of the equal-protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and of the Fifteenth Amendment: the right of black people to vote; the right of black people to be hired for federal, state, and local government jobs without discrimination; the right of black people to own and carry arms for protection, and to receive police protection, against criminals such as the Ku Klux Klan; and the right to serve equally in the United States military.

The Dixiecrat platform quoted from the 1840 Democratic platform, which was the platform of the great Democratic President Martin Van Buren. More than any other President, Van Buren faithfully followed the Constitution, so his platform — fewer than 1,000 words long — is an especially valuable guide for constitutionalists. The part quoted by the Dixiecrats resolved:

That Congress has no power under the constitution, to interfere with or control the domestic institutions of the several states; and such states are the sole and proper judges of everything pertaining to their own affairs, not prohibited by the constitution….

The 1840 platform went to warn, accurately, that Abolitionism would endanger the Union. As a result of the Civil War, the Constitution was changed, and the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments were added. From the late 1870s onward, the equal-protection clause and the prohibition of racial discrimination in voting were nullified in much of America. In seeking to enforce the Constitution, President Truman was following in the footsteps of constitutionalist President Van Buren.

The Dixiecrats made sure not to quote another paragraph of the 1840 platform:

that every citizen and every section of the country has a right to demand and insist upon an equality of rights and privileges, and to complete and ample protection of persons and property from domestic violence or foreign aggression.

That statement is the principle on which the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments are based. States' rights were not a legitimate constitutional basis for states to violate the constitutional rights of their citizens.

Senator Lott shouldn't be pilloried for once calling the Civil War a war of "aggression," for there was a plausible case to made the that Confederate states had a right to secede. There are a good number of Southerners of his generation and older — some of them quite liberal and quite in favor of civil rights — who say the same thing.

But in 1948, with the south firmly in the Union, the south had a duty to obey the Constitution. The Dixiecrats of 1948 stood for nullifying the Constitution, not obeying it, and they were renegades against not only Harry Truman, but against the great historic principles of the Democratic party.

The Dixiecrats supported the raw power of Jim Crow over the lawful command of the Constitution; likewise, Congressmen Thurmond and Lott supported a criminal president of their party who attacked the constitutional rule of law. It is truly a blessing for America that Strom Thurmond never became president.

Senator Lott is the wrong choice to lead a party which seeks to follow constitutional values.

— Dave Kopel is a contributing editor of NRO.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: dixiecrats; lott; trentlott
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Hmmm I thought the reason was defense and budget?

Character Matters

1 posted on 12/16/2002 8:12:18 AM PST by Kay Soze
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To: Kay Soze
Great post. This should take the wind of of the sails of those who applaud the Dixiecrats for states-rights reasons. Unfortunately, it probably won't, so I'll repeat this again:

States' rights were not a legitimate constitutional basis for states to violate the constitutional rights of their citizens.

2 posted on 12/16/2002 8:15:59 AM PST by dirtboy
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To: Kay Soze
All you need to know:

" Thurmond bolted the 1948 Democratic Convention... "

Segregationists back then, as they are today, were Democrats.

3 posted on 12/16/2002 8:19:55 AM PST by Republic of Texas
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To: dirtboy
States' rights were not a legitimate constitutional basis for states to violate the constitutional rights of their citizens.

And certainly not a moral basis either.

Good to see you.

4 posted on 12/16/2002 8:20:19 AM PST by OWK
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To: dirtboy
Lott has set back the Republican Party 54 years. Stupid bastard !
5 posted on 12/16/2002 8:20:26 AM PST by Eric in the Ozarks
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To: Republic of Texas
And lets make sure we keep the racists in the democratic party wher they should have stayed and out of the GOP. We will be bettr of for it.

Dirtboy what's one of the points here is that it takes the wind out of the : Dixiecrat for budget and defense argument Lottbots raise.


Charcter Matters
6 posted on 12/16/2002 8:23:28 AM PST by Kay Soze
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To: dirtboy
This is a solid analysis for why Conservative libertarian republicans should have rejected the perhaps seductive State's Rights/Dixiecrats in 1948, but does not take into account that the alternatives were Truman and Dewey-Warren. Warren did about as much as anyone in the 20th Century to change the interpretation to the Consitution.

I think I would have probably sat 1948 out.
7 posted on 12/16/2002 8:23:39 AM PST by JohnGalt
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To: JohnGalt
H.L. Mencken, the great libertarian writer, also sat out that election but wrote some wonderful pieces about it. Mencken praised Thurmond as a gentleman and lampooned Henry Wallace as a crazy. However, he also said that if he had to live in a world populated by delegates to Wallace's convention or delegates at Thurmond's convention, he would choose the former.
8 posted on 12/16/2002 8:27:33 AM PST by Austin Willard Wright
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To: Kay Soze
Hypocritically, he later voted to impeach President Clinton for obstruction of justice and perjury — although the Clinton offenses had occurred in the context of a private civil-rights lawsuit, whereas Nixon had been obstructing a criminal investigation about a presidential election.

Just a little nitpicking, you'd think we'd all have a grip on the appropriate terminology now: Senator Lott could not vote to impeach Clinton, for impeachment is the sole prerogative of the House. Senator Lott may have voted to convict Clinton, but chose to provide an environment that would make said conviction an impossibility. In BOTH instances (Nixon and Clinton), he behaved in a manner to save asses that didn't deserve saving.

9 posted on 12/16/2002 8:29:47 AM PST by Mr. Bird
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To: OWK
And certainly not a moral basis either. Good to see you.

Good seeing you, also. As I was saying to folks last week on this subject, we all would have been much better off had the states in question cleaned up their own act instead of trying to wrap their racism in the mantle of states rights - because it associated the noble concept of states rights with segregation and racism, and it justified the intiation of federal action against the states to enforce equal protect - but of course, once the federal camel's nose was in the tent, eventually the entire camel crawled in as well, with edicts that went far beyond enforcing Constitutional rights.

10 posted on 12/16/2002 8:30:19 AM PST by dirtboy
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To: JohnGalt
I think I would have probably sat 1948 out.

I guess every generation has their particular elections where they have to hold their noses when voting.

11 posted on 12/16/2002 8:31:10 AM PST by dirtboy
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To: Kay Soze; Rodney King
One small nitpick regarding this statement: No senator outdid Strom Thurmond in the 1960s for outraged denunciation of the Supreme Court's strict enforcement of the criminal-procedure provisions of the Bill of Rights.

What many conservatives opposed was the "incorporation" doctrine by which selected portions of the federal bill of rights (most notably not including the 2nd Amendment) were enforced by the Supreme Court against the states without any constitutional basis for doing so. Even after the adoption of the 14th Amendment, decades passed before anyone made a serious argument that somehow it federalized the Bill of Rights (except with respect to discriminatory treatment of Blacks). Most Americans are painfully unaware that, as originally adopted, the Bill of Rights offered protections from the federal government only. For example, the First Amendment begins, "Congress shall make no law..." (Several states even had official religions back when the Bill of Rights was ratified and nobody suggested they were violative of it.) Today, most of us unthinkingly accept the notion that we have rights with respect to state governments that are guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, without realizing that this was really a liberal contrivance of much more recent vintage.

12 posted on 12/16/2002 8:31:28 AM PST by Stingray51
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To: dirtboy
My only problem with the article is the claim that there was a plausible case to be made that secession was constitutional. There is not and it was not. Not only that but States have no rights under the constitution.
13 posted on 12/16/2002 8:31:57 AM PST by justshutupandtakeit
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To: Kay Soze
Outstanding post.

Cheers,

Richard F.

14 posted on 12/16/2002 8:32:18 AM PST by rdf
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To: Republic of Texas
Segregationists back then, as they are today, were Democrats.

So are you maintaining that back in 1948 Republicans were all in favor of integration, and that there were no segregationists in the GOP then?

15 posted on 12/16/2002 8:32:40 AM PST by RonF
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To: justshutupandtakeit
My only problem with the article is the claim that there was a plausible case to be made that secession was constitutional. There is not and it was not.

That is a matter of viable debate, but is secondary to the issues of 1948.

Not only that but States have no rights under the constitution.

Say WHAT? Read the 10th Amendment lately? Or do you only believe in ENUMERATED rights?

16 posted on 12/16/2002 8:33:30 AM PST by dirtboy
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To: Kay Soze
I really didn't know much about the Dixiecrat platform, or about Lott and Thurmond's hypocracy on obstruction of justice-impeachment. This is a very damaging article - he's right to point out the difference between pricipled opposition to aspects of the 1964 Civil Rights Act (on constitutional grounds by Goldwater and others) and the promotion of states' rights simply to allow states to violate the constitution. Lott is toast.
17 posted on 12/16/2002 8:33:47 AM PST by Bogolyubski
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To: dirtboy
History is replete with nefarious characters wrapping their perverted causes in a noble one. Our leaders , and voters should've been discerning enough to see that, then.
18 posted on 12/16/2002 8:34:23 AM PST by Republic of Texas
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To: dirtboy
The 10th amendment grants all powers not expressed in the Constitution or the first nine amendments to the states, right?
19 posted on 12/16/2002 8:34:32 AM PST by ItisaReligionofPeace
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To: Stingray51
Well...the 15th Amendment clearly applied to the states. Indeed, that was the whole point of it! Thurmond opposed implementation of that amendment too. Interestingly, had the 15th Amendment been effectively enforced in 1948, it could be argued that all the steam would have been taken out of the later movement for a federal CR law which violated property rights.
20 posted on 12/16/2002 8:34:34 AM PST by Austin Willard Wright
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To: Kay Soze
Outstanding!
21 posted on 12/16/2002 8:34:56 AM PST by Chancellor Palpatine
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To: Austin Willard Wright
I appreciate that tid-bit on Mencken; I saw Murry Rothbard's letter as he reached out to Strom in 1948 in an effort to create a more libertarian minded platform for national appeal, but I was curious what Mencken's take was on the subject.

As an aside, funny how no one wants to talk about Truman being a member of the KKK and a member of an administration that put American citizens in concentration camps. Makes you happy we live in a political situation where Socialist Party A's candidate is infinitely more appealing than Socialist Party B's candidate.
22 posted on 12/16/2002 8:35:58 AM PST by JohnGalt
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To: Republic of Texas
Segregationists back then, as they are today, were Democrats.

This fact still escapes people like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. What I wonder is, are they really that stupid, or that evil?

23 posted on 12/16/2002 8:36:12 AM PST by FourtySeven
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To: RonF
Actually, compared to the Democrats, the Republicans did indeed have far fewer segregationists in 1948. The main exceptions were the lily white Republicans in some of the Southern delegations but they never won elections. Even in the South, many of the state GOP parties were still controlled by black/white coalitions. The Democratics, on the other hand, were all white in the South.
24 posted on 12/16/2002 8:37:21 AM PST by Austin Willard Wright
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To: ItisaReligionofPeace
The 10th amendment grants all powers not expressed in the Constitution or the first nine amendments to the states, right?

It does NOT allow states to deny Constitutionally-defined rights at the federal level to all or part of its citizens. Segregation was a blatant violation of the equal protection clause, as this essay points out.

25 posted on 12/16/2002 8:37:27 AM PST by dirtboy
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To: Austin Willard Wright
What happened slowly after 1948 was the drift of many Southen Dems into the GOP - and a fair number of these, such as Strom Thurmond, were former Dixiecrats and segregationists. But the media prefers to overlook the source and instead dwells on the destination.
26 posted on 12/16/2002 8:39:04 AM PST by dirtboy
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To: ItisaReligionofPeace
The 10th amendment grants all powers not expressed in the Constitution or the first nine amendments to the states, right?

To the states... and to the people.

The rights of individuals trump any governmental power.

Always.

27 posted on 12/16/2002 8:39:53 AM PST by OWK
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To: JohnGalt
Mencken's articles about the 1948 election are the compilation, The Importance of H.L. Mencken. Though he convered all four conventions, his on-the-scene account of the convention which nominated Henry Wallace is particularly hilarious. Unfortunately, these articles were his last journalistic hurrah. He had a stroke shortly after the election and could no longer write.
28 posted on 12/16/2002 8:41:24 AM PST by Austin Willard Wright
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To: Austin Willard Wright
Some years ago there was a very humorous, yet accurate, article ( and the author's name escapes me) who central thesis was that college athletics was the prime rationale for embracing integration in the south...because the SEC and other schools were tired of getting clocked by colleges who were integrated......IOW, the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em"....theory....
29 posted on 12/16/2002 8:42:47 AM PST by ken5050
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To: OWK
And the first part of the 10th:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution

Since the federal government under the Constitution is mandated to provide for equal protection under the law, and that power is granted over state interests by the 14th, then federal action to enforce equal protection in the PUBLIC sector is a Constitutional federal action. Unfortunately, the feds didn't stop in the public sector, but the Dixiecrats and segregationists gave them the opening to intervene.

30 posted on 12/16/2002 8:43:37 AM PST by dirtboy
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To: OWK
whoops, I left out the most important part...the people!

powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

31 posted on 12/16/2002 8:44:22 AM PST by ItisaReligionofPeace
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To: dirtboy
It is worthy to note, however, that Ike made some big inroads in the black vote in the 1950s. In 1956, he captured 40 percent and many predicated that the GOP would soon completely reverse the decline since the 1930s. In 1956, Ike got the vote of such blacks as Martin Luther King, Jr., Jackie Robinson, and Rev. Abernathy. Not all blacks were Eisenhower Republicans either. Most of the black Republicans at the 1952 GOP convention voted for Taft!
32 posted on 12/16/2002 8:44:57 AM PST by Austin Willard Wright
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To: FourtySeven
They are not stupid...
33 posted on 12/16/2002 8:45:24 AM PST by Republic of Texas
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To: dirtboy
Segregation was a blatant violation of the equal protection clause

Really? I don't agree with segregation, but I don't think it is really so clear. At least, the Supreme court didn't think so in Plessy vs. Ferguson (1892, 28 years after the "equal protection clause" was added)...

34 posted on 12/16/2002 8:47:29 AM PST by ItisaReligionofPeace
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To: Austin Willard Wright
Do you know where I could read these articles today ? The more I read up on Henry Wallace, the more I'm convinced he was either a Communist dupe or a moron.
35 posted on 12/16/2002 8:48:53 AM PST by Eric in the Ozarks
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To: ItisaReligionofPeace
Here is the issue. Here is the lead-in clause for the 10th:

powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution,

So the question becomes, did the federal government have the legal power and authority under the Constitution to compel states to end forced segregation? The answer is in the 14th:

No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Segregation was a clear violation of the highlighted power.

36 posted on 12/16/2002 8:50:00 AM PST by dirtboy
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To: ItisaReligionofPeace
Really? I don't agree with segregation, but I don't think it is really so clear. At least, the Supreme court didn't think so in Plessy vs. Ferguson (1892, 28 years after the "equal protection clause" was added)...

The court was wrong, namely because it inserted the famous weasel words that segregation could be "separate BUT equal" and pass Constitutional muster - but segregation was never about equality, but forced INEQUALITY.

37 posted on 12/16/2002 8:51:49 AM PST by dirtboy
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To: RonF
Though not stirling, the Republican party has a good pretty history on the segregation issue. Certainly, much better than the Democratic Party. For instance, Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge had planks in their presidential platforms that called for a federal anti-lynching law. Likewise, the Republicans of that era actively supported federal laws that would have banned such things as poll taxes. In fact, in the twenty-six major civil rights votes since 1933, a majority of Democrats opposed civil rights legislation in over 80 % of the votes. By contrast, the Republican majority favored civil rights in over 96 % of the votes.

BTW, if you want the source for this statistic, let me know and I will dig it up for you.

38 posted on 12/16/2002 8:52:34 AM PST by vbmoneyspender
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To: ItisaReligionofPeace
Segregation (as practiced by private citizens, on private property) is a right.

Segregation as practiced by government, is immoral, and a violation of rights.

State is morally obligated to provide the same treatment to any and all.

Private individuals are under no such moral obligation, and may choose their associations as THEY (and not state) see fit.

I happen to think racial discrimination is foolish and irrational... but it is nevertheless consistent with property rights, and the right to free association when practiced by individuals.

Government did a good thing when it prohibited such practices within itself, but as usual, government didn't stop there. It went on to prohibit the practice among private individuals, thereby subjugating legitimate rights of property and free-association... while asserting false "civil rights".

No one has a "right" to access the private property of an unwilling individual, or to demand employment or association with an unwilling individual. But government pretends otherwise.

39 posted on 12/16/2002 8:55:08 AM PST by OWK
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To: dirtboy
see post 39.
40 posted on 12/16/2002 8:55:41 AM PST by OWK
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To: dirtboy
As I was saying to folks last week on this subject, we all would have been much better off had the states in question cleaned up their own act instead of trying to wrap their racism in the mantle of states rights

Of course we would have but do you think Mississippi and Alabama and Louisiania would cleaned up their own acts by the 21st century without some prodding. I'm not so sure.

41 posted on 12/16/2002 8:57:21 AM PST by Dave S
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To: OWK
Well and succinctly stated. This is what allows the Boy Scouts to deny memberships to gays, and for you and I to deny admittance to Al Sharpton were he to show up at our front door demanding our beer and pizza.
42 posted on 12/16/2002 8:57:56 AM PST by dirtboy
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To: OWK
Not sure what to say. I agree the Federal Government tries to get its hands in everything it can.
43 posted on 12/16/2002 9:00:04 AM PST by ItisaReligionofPeace
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To: Dave S
I'm not so sure.

I agree with you, I was only throwing out a hypotheical in a context - if the Dixiecrats were so damned concerned about states rights, they would have read the writing on the wall and realized they were giving the feds legal justification for intervening in state matters. Had they cleaned up their act on their own, that would have been far more beneficial to the concept of states rights, which to this day carries the foul taint of the bigots who tried to righteously cloak themselves and their perversity within that noble concept.

44 posted on 12/16/2002 9:00:06 AM PST by dirtboy
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To: Eric in the Ozarks
Lott has set back the Republican Party 54 years. Stupid bastard !

The Republican and Democrat platforms of 1948 were virtually identical on Civil Rights --- they both were for it.


45 posted on 12/16/2002 9:01:12 AM PST by Ditto
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To: dirtboy
There are no logical, consistent or historically accurate arguments that secession was constitutional. That is not to say that words can't be twisted, taken out of context or dreamed up that MIGHT offer a fig leaf to cover the naked illogic of secessionists but it would be more like a Black Locust leaf than a fig leaf. These are bankrupt and foolish arguments.

The 10th amendment refers to the POWERS of the states or the people.

A state's people have rights states do not.
46 posted on 12/16/2002 9:01:18 AM PST by justshutupandtakeit
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To: Kay Soze
le bump
47 posted on 12/16/2002 9:01:22 AM PST by RaceBannon
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To: dirtboy
My friend, once again, you don't see my point. It is so obvious to you that this is the case. Some very bright men who knew a lot more about our constitution and laws happened to disagree with you. My point is that it is not as obvious as you'd like to believe.
48 posted on 12/16/2002 9:01:25 AM PST by ItisaReligionofPeace
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To: Kay Soze
I had a hard time distinguishing any actual quotes from all the blather thrown in by the author. Next time perhaps he should try directly quoting from the document when he's pretending to do so.

I know less about the Dixiecrats now than when I started.

Dump your agenda, Mr. Kopel, and give out with some facts.

49 posted on 12/16/2002 9:01:44 AM PST by jimt
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To: Mr. Bird
Senator Lott may have voted to convict Clinton, but chose to provide an environment that would make said conviction an impossibility.

I don't see how The Senate would have voted to convict. It takes a 2/3rds vote in the Senate to convict. That means a party line majority vote won't convict. Not a single DemocRAT senator voted to convict. Since Clinton was not going to be convicted, Republicans from more liberal states were not going to stick their necks out and vote to convict.

50 posted on 12/16/2002 9:01:50 AM PST by Paleo Conservative
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