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Handful of Republican Senators Haven’t Co-Signed Resolution Apologizing For Past Failure To Pass Anti-Lynching Law

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At least 10 Republican Senators have failed to add their names as co-sponsors of a resolution passed on June 14 that apologizes for past failures to pass anti-lynching laws.

The senators are Michael Crapo of Idaho, Thad Cochran and Trent Lott of Mississippi, John Sununu of New Hampshire, George Voinovich of Ohio, Gordon Smith of Oregon, Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, Orrin Hatch of Utah, Michael Enzi and Craig Thomas of Wyoming.

Can anyone explain the reluctance to add one’s name to the resolution? Requests from various journalists to determine the motives behind this band of hold-outs — especially the two Mississippi Senators — have thus far been met with silence.


And while you’re scratching your head wondering why a list of predominantly conservative Republicans wouldn’t want to be on the record as apologizing for past Senate failures, here’s something else to think about.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) refused repeated requests for a roll call vote on the resolution, instead forcing a voice vote procedure that did not require any senator’s presence. Then his spokesman apparently lied about Frist’s reasoning for the decision.

The group that was the driving force behind the resolution had asked Frist for a formal procedure that would have required all 100 senators to vote. And the group had asked that the debate take place during “business hours” during the week, instead of Monday evening, when most senators were traveling back to the capital. Instead, Frist had the resolution adopted under what is called “unanimous consent,” whereby it is adopted as long as no senator expresses opposition.


Bob Stevenson, Frist’s chief spokesman, said Tuesday evening the procedure the majority leader established was “requested by the sponsors.”

The chief sponsors of the resolution, Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and George Allen (R-VA), disputed that assertion.

Allen press secretary David Snepp told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “I don’t know why Bob Stevenson would characterize it that way.” Snepp said Allen had insisted that he preferred a roll call vote.

Landrieu said Monday before the resolution was adopted she would have preferred a roll call vote but had to accept the conditions set by Frist.

When Stevenson was informed of Landrieu’s statement, he changed his story, but his new version didn’t mesh with statements from the Landrieu or Allen camps. “At least one of the sponsors” had requested adoption on a voice vote, Stevenson told the Journal-Constitution.

Jan Cohen, the wife of former Defense Secretary William Cohen and one of the key figures in the Committee for a Formal Apology, expressed outrage over the lack of a roll call vote.

“America is home of the brave, but I’m afraid there may be a few cowards who have to cower to their very narrow-minded and backward, hateful constituency,” Cohen told ABC News.



This article first appeared on Journalists Against Bush’s B.S. (JABBS)

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About David R. Mark


    Does this mean there are no laws against killing on the books yet?

  • RJ

    This was one of those pointless, symbolic resolutions that are great for pummelling your opponent around election time, but have no real meaning.

  • DJRadiohead

    Is it not comforting knowing the issues facing our nation at present have been handled so successfully our leaders have time to correct past wrongs? Or wait… is it that our nation is so far behind we won’t see any of today’s issues handled until 2083?

  • David R. Mark

    Whether the legislation is pointless or not can be debated. But that doesn’t address the basic question — why won’t these Senators join their cohorts, and why did Frist demand that the resolution be subject to a voice vote?

    Is there a pro-lynching constituency that the Republicans don’t want to offend? I’m being facetious, but honestly, what gives?

  • Matt

    No, the prolynching faction is solidly Democratic, mostly from the hills of West Virginia.

    The question is why so many would cosponsor something so silly and why anyone would want to take the time for a roll call vote.

  • Nancy

    Because it makes good copy, and it doesn’t cost them anything…or so they thought. Interesting that everyone that used to be prolynching used to be southern Dems, but now they’re mainly southern neocons. Only case I know of where an entire population upped and did a reverse-position on their political party (and no, Dave, I’m not claiming that Republicans are in favor of lynching; I’m commenting on how odd it is to have a block party change like this, even over the course of a century). What was Strom Thurmond when he retired, a D or an R? What about that other old geezer that just about died on office from the south?

  • David R. Mark

    Thurmond died a Republican.

    Regardling the “silly” nature of the resolution — the Senate has a history of unanimously passing feel-good resolutions. Look through the annals, and you’ll find official days, people officially recognized for heroic acts, calls for new official stamps to be created, for buildings to be officially renamed in honor of someone, etc. Non-controversial stuff.

    What makes this interesting, of course, is that this was once a controversial issue. And you would think that all Senators would want to have their name attached to such a resolution — especially those from Southern states, like Mississippi, where lynchings were all too frequent a half-century ago.

    And that brings us back to the original, and as yet unanswered questions: Why did Frist demand a voice vote? Why did Frist’s spokesman lie … twice? Why did the Republican Senators not attach their name to the resolution?

    I have yet to really see a concrete answer for any of those — here or anywhere else.

  • Jimmy Jaz

    This kind or resolution should never be put forward for a yea/nay vote. It should only be done by acclamation. Why insist that everyone sign on to something like this? It’s like making Senators take a loyalty oath like the days of Joe McCarthy.


  • David R. Mark

    Someone just posted a comment on my site ( that I agree with completely.

    Imagine if it were 10 Democrats who hadn’t co-sponsored the resolution! What a field day it would be for Rush Limbaugh, Joe Scarborough, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, etc.

  • Scott

    “What a field day it would be for Rush Limbaugh, Joe Scarborough, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter”

    That’s only because those people are kept on a diet of lies and hubris and their lives are so bereft of joy and meaning that the only way for them to feel good about themselves is to say silly things about other people. I feel sorry for them really.

  • Thad

    I think this was a huge step forward for the South. Keep in mind that Jesse Helms, who retired just a few years ago, still thinks desegregation was the wrong thing to do.

    When I see conservative bloggers trying to play the race card – “Barbara Boxer’s a racist for criticizing Rice!!!!,” etc. – I can’t believe they want to go there.

  • Thad Anderson

    “No, the prolynching faction is solidly Democratic, mostly from the hills of West Virginia.”

    No offense, but you don’t know what you’re talking about. The way the GOP gained a prominent role in the South between 1950-1990 was by opposing the civil rights movement. The South had been almost completely Democratic before the 50’s, and the major political battles were fought out in the Democratic primaries. When JFK and LBJ began passing civil rights legislation, a lot of folks in the South left the Democratic Party.

  • RJ

    Perhaps some Senators feel that by refusing to sign this resolution, the relatively small number of anti-black voters in the South will make sure to come out and support them in the next election.

    It doesn’t mean the actual Senators are bigoted themselves. But they are perhaps playing to voters who still are racist.

  • Temple Stark

    Um .. and that’s a good thing? Or are you just being silly. Rhetorical.

  • Thad Anderson

    RJ makes a good point. George Wallace was a case of just that, from what I’ve read. Great Drive-By-Truckers song about it on “Southern Rock Opera” – “Three Alabama Icons”.

  • RJ


    Well, even bigots have the right to vote. And every vote counts!

    Democrats don’t refuse to accept the votes of convicted violent felons (in those jurisdictions where they are allowed to vote), or communists.

  • Temple Stark

    >>Well, even bigots have the right to vote. And every vote counts!

    Sure. It’s a driving force at election time, sometimes. I was referring to, “Is it a good thing to cater to bigots? For the politician? Yes. for the good of the country? No.

  • RJ

    “Sure. It’s a driving force at election time, sometimes. I was referring to, “Is it a good thing to cater to bigots? For the politician? Yes. for the good of the country? No.”

    In general terms, we are in agreement.

    But, in this particular case, what harm was done to the country? This meaningless, toothless Senate resolution passed anyway. No mobs were formed to “kill them darkies.”


    The only end result is that some bigots will now be sure to vote for whoever refused to sign this inane resolution. And some people will be less inclined to vote for those who refused to sign this pointless resolution.

    That’s about it.

  • Paul D, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    Interesting that 12 Republicans are in favor of lynching and about 20 begrudgingly signed on to save face under pressure. A huge a block of their party should be called the racist caucus. What was the recent bankrupty bill about? Or refusal to raise the minimum wage for a decade while giving themselves 8 raises? Or not allowing many blacks to vote in the past two elections unless they had 12 forms of ID? Not apologizing for lynchings?

    It’s time to fire some senators!! What kind of country is this? !@#$%^&*(!!

  • David R. Mark

    According to Roll Call, senators who failed to co-sponsor the anti-lynching
    resolution have had a hard time telling a straight story about their

    Roll Call reports: “From being busy with other legislative business to a belief that the measure was simply not necessary, 13 Senate Republicans offered a variety of explanations for their decision not to co-sponsor a resolution apologizing for the chamber’s past inaction on lynching.”

    None of the senators cited a reason given by apologists in the right-wing blogosphere — the theory that Southern Democrats were responsible 40-50 years ago for filibustering anti-lynching laws, leaving today’s conservatives feeling no need to apologize.

  • Ivan Carter

    Not sure If I am missing something, but Im always leery of apologizing for something that somebody else did. It is a symbolic gesture,I suppose, but what does it accomplish? It just seems like there are better issue to focus on,since the Senators involved are not the ones who refrained from passing the proper laws, and it does not involve anything today.

    this is not to be misconstrued as avoiding issues of the past (as, in the media today,we often dowithin a matter of months, if not weeks) that still have bearing on today’s issues