April 12, 2019

MAGA BEFORE IT WAS COOL:

Letters from Joe Biden reveal how he sought support of segregationists in fight against busing (Jeff Zeleny,  April 11, 2019, CNN)

In a series of never-before-published letters from Biden, which were reviewed by CNN, the strength of his opposition to busing comes into sharper focus, particularly how he followed the lead of -- and sought support from -- some of the Senate's most fervent segregationists.
"My bill strikes at the heart of the injustice of court-ordered busing. It prohibits the federal courts from disrupting our educational system in the name of the constitution where there is no evidence that the governmental officials intended to discriminate," Biden wrote to fellow senators on March 25, 1977. "I believe there is a growing sentiment in the Congress to curb unnecessary busing."

Biden, who at the time was 34 and serving his first term in the Senate, repeatedly asked for -- and received -- the support of Sen. James Eastland, a Mississippi Democrat and chairman of the Judiciary Committee and a leading symbol of Southern resistance to desegregation. Eastland frequently spoke of blacks as "an inferior race."

"Dear Mr. Chairman," Biden wrote on June 30, 1977. "I want you to know that I very much appreciate your help during this week's committee meeting in attempting to bring my anti-busing legislation to a vote."

Two weeks later, Biden followed up with a note to Eastland "to thank you again for your efforts in support of my bill to limit court ordered busing."

Biden, who would go on to lead the Judiciary Committee a decade later, got his start on the panel under Eastland. Few senators were more virulently outspoken against desegregation than the Mississippi senator, who was known for incendiary floor speeches on race.

Yet Biden invited Eastland to speak on the Senate floor in support of his anti-busing bill.
"I want to personally ask your continued support and alert you to our intentions," Biden wrote on Aug. 22, 1978. "Your participation in floor debate would be welcomed."

Posted by at April 12, 2019 12:00 AM

  

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