[From Congressional Record, 84th Congress Second
Session. Vol. 102, part 4 (March 12, 1956). Washington, D.C.:
Governmental Printing Office, 1956. 4459-4460.]
THE DECISION OF THE SUPREME COURT IN THE SCHOOL CASES
DECLARATION OF CONSTITUTIONAL PRINCIPLES
Mr. [Walter F.] GEORGE. Mr. President, the increasing gravity of the
situation following the decision of the Supreme Court in the so-called
segregation cases, and the peculiar stress in sections of the country
where this decision has created many difficulties, unknown and
unappreciated, perhaps, by many people residing in other parts of the
country, have led some Senators and some Members of the House of
Representatives to prepare a statement of the position which they have
felt and now feel to be imperative.
I now wish to present to the Senate a statement on behalf of 19
Senators, representing 11 States, and 77 House Members, representing a
considerable number of States likewise. . . .
DECLARATION OF CONSTITUTIONAL PRINCIPLES
The unwarranted decision of the Supreme Court in the public school
cases is now bearing the fruit always produced when men substitute naked
power for established law.
The Founding Fathers gave us a Constitution of checks and balances
because they realized the inescapable lesson of history that no man or
group of men can be safely entrusted with unlimited power. They framed
this Constitution with its provisions for change by amendment in order
to secure the fundamentals of government against the dangers of
temporary popular passion or the personal predilections of public
We regard the decisions of the Supreme Court in the school cases as a
clear abuse of judicial power. It climaxes a trend in the Federal
Judiciary undertaking to legislate, in derogation of the authority of
Congress, and to encroach upon the reserved rights of the States and the
The original Constitution does not mention education. Neither does
the 14th Amendment nor any other amendment. The debates preceding the
submission of the 14th Amendment clearly show that there was no intent
that it should affect the system of education maintained by the States.
The very Congress which proposed the amendment subsequently provided
for segregated schools in the District of Columbia.
When the amendment was adopted in 1868, there were 37 States of the
Union. . . .
Every one of the 26 States that had any substantial racial
differences among its people, either approved the operation of
segregated schools already in existence or subsequently established such
schools by action of the same law-making body which considered the 14th
As admitted by the Supreme Court in the public school case
(Brown v. Board of Education), the doctrine of separate
but equal schools "apparently originated in Roberts v. City of
Boston (1849), upholding school segregation against attack as being
violative of a State constitutional guarantee of equality." This
constitutional doctrine began in the North, not in the South, and it was
followed not only in Massachusetts, but in Connecticut, New York,
Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania
and other northern states until they, exercising their rights as states
through the constitutional processes of local self-government, changed
their school systems.
In the case of Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896 the Supreme
Court expressly declared that under the 14th Amendment no person was
denied any of his rights if the States provided separate but equal
facilities. This decision has been followed in many other cases. It is
notable that the Supreme Court, speaking through Chief Justice Taft, a
former President of the United States, unanimously declared in 1927 in
Lum v. Rice that the "separate but equal" principle is
"within the discretion of the State in regulating its public schools and
does not conflict with the 14th Amendment."
This interpretation, restated time and again, became a part of the
life of the people of many of the States and confirmed their habits,
traditions, and way of life. It is founded on elemental humanity and
commonsense, for parents should not be deprived by Government of the
right to direct the lives and education of their own children.
Though there has been no constitutional amendment or act of Congress
changing this established legal principle almost a century old, the
Supreme Court of the United States, with no legal basis for such action,
undertook to exercise their naked judicial power and substituted their
personal political and social ideas for the established law of the land.
This unwarranted exercise of power by the Court, contrary to the
Constitution, is creating chaos and confusion in the States principally
affected. It is destroying the amicable relations between the white and
Negro races that have been created through 90 years of patient effort by
the good people of both races. It has planted hatred and suspicion where
there has been heretofore friendship and understanding.
Without regard to the consent of the governed, outside mediators are
threatening immediate and revolutionary changes in our public schools
systems. If done, this is certain to destroy the system of public
education in some of the States.
With the gravest concern for the explosive and dangerous condition
created by this decision and inflamed by outside meddlers:
We reaffirm our reliance on the Constitution as the fundamental law
of the land.
We decry the Supreme Court's encroachment on the rights reserved to
the States and to the people, contrary to established law, and to the
We commend the motives of those States which have declared the
intention to resist forced integration by any lawful means.
We appeal to the States and people who are not directly affected by
these decisions to consider the constitutional principles involved
against the time when they too, on issues vital to them may be the
victims of judicial encroachment.
Even though we constitute a minority in the present Congress, we have
full faith that a majority of the American people believe in the dual
system of government which has enabled us to achieve our greatness and
will in time demand that the reserved rights of the States and of the
people be made secure against judicial usurpation.
We pledge ourselves to use all lawful means to bring about a reversal
of this decision which is contrary to the Constitution and to prevent
the use of force in its implementation.
In this trying period, as we all seek to right this wrong, we appeal
to our people not to be provoked by the agitators and troublemakers
invading our States and to scrupulously refrain from disorder and
MEMBERS OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE
Walter F. George, Richard B. Russell, John Stennis, Sam J. Ervin,
Jr., Strom Thurmond, Harry F. Byrd, A. Willis Robertson, John L.
McClellan, Allen J. Ellender, Russell B. Long, Lister Hill, James O.
Eastland, W. Kerr Scott, John Sparkman, Olin D. Johnston, Price Daniel,
J.W. Fulbright, George A. Smathers, Spessard L. Holland.
MEMBERS OF THE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Alabama: Frank W. Boykin, George M. Grant, George W. Andrews,
Kenneth A. Roberts, Albert Rains, Armistead I. Selden, Jr., Carl
Elliott, Robert E. Jones, George Huddleston, Jr.
Arkansas: E.C. Gathings, Wilbur D. Mills, James W. Trimble,
Oren Harris, Brooks Hays, W.F. Norrell.
Florida: Charles E. Bennett, Robert L.F. Sikes, A.S. Herlong,
Jr., Paul G. Rogers, James A. Haley, D.R. Matthews.
Georgia: Prince H. Preston, John L. Pilcher, E.L. Forrester,
John James Flynt, Jr., James C. Davis, Carl Vinson, Henderson Lanham,
Iris F. Blitch, Phil M. Landrum, Paul Brown.
Louisiana: F. Edward Hebert, Hale Boggs, Edwin E. Willis,
Overton Brooks, Otto E. Passman, James H. Morrison, T. Ashton Thompson,
George S. Long.
Mississippi: Thomas G. Abernathy, Jamie L. Whitten, Frank E.
Smith, John Bell Williams, Arthur Winstead, William M. Colmer.
North Carolina: Herbert C. Bonner, L.H. Fountain, Graham A.
Barden, Carl T. Durham, F. Ertel Carlyle, Hugh Q. Alexander, Woodrow W.
Jones, George A. Shuford.
South Carolina: L. Mendel Rivers, John J. Riley, W.J. Bryan
Dorn, Robert T. Ashmore, James P. Richards, John L. McMillan.
Tennessee: James B. Frazier, Jr., Tom Murray, Jere Cooper,