In a story about the D.C. Republican Central Committee yesterday, it was erroneously reported that member Michael Gill arrived late, and therefore was the only member who voted after, rather than before, a debate on the D.C. voting rights amendment. Gill had been at the meeting from the beginning.
A deeply split D.C. Republican Central Committee last night gave shaky support to the D.C. voting rights amendment in a stormy session that ended with an angry confrontation between the party chairman and its national committeeman.
Chairman Pual S. Hays rallied enough support in behalf of the ratification drive to beat back a resolution that would have withdrawn support of the proposed constitutional amendment. The vote was 37 to 29.
Moments later, after many of the committee members had left the meeting in the council chambers of the District Building, national committeeman Robert S. Carter, an opponent of ratification, rammed through a motion that requires Hays to notify state legislatures that are considering the amendment that only 56 percent of the D.C. committee favors the amendment.
Carter's motion passed 21 to 13, but Hays said after the meeting that he would not carry out the order.
"I'm no more bound to carry out the result of his motion than he apparently thought he was to abide by the will of the majority," said Hays, his face flushed with angeer.
"If he wants to notify the legislatures, he can," Hays added.
Committee member Sam Jackson, who favors the amendment, shouted at Carter during debate on the second motion, "Don't talk to me about a unified party" and then require the chairman to report that 44 percent of the committee voted against ratification every time he speaks in favor of it.
A white-haired woman who supported Carter argued that state legislators who debate the amendment have a right to the truth that the Republican Party [in the District] is divided" on the question.
"When does the loser lose?" called out Mei Burton, who said approval of the original resolution would have been "the death knell of the Republican Party" in D.C.
During the debate over Carter's motion, Hays lost his temper in ruling Carter out of order, prompting two committee members to call out, "remove the chairman." Hays apologized to Carter.
The debate on Carter's motion was livelier than the one on the resolution, sponsored by attorney Henry A. Berliner.
Hays turned the podium over to party treasurer Rufus Peckham so that Hays could speak against Berliner's resolution.
Before debate began, Peckham announced that because some members had to leave early, they could vote before the question was debated.
Whereupon all but one of the 67 members of the 77-member committee who were present filed forward and cast secret ballots on the question.
"We put the cart before the horse," observed one woman.
Having completed what they had come for, the Republicans then settled back and debated the resolution for 40 minutes, not knowing the result of their vote, but also not able to influence anyone other than Michael Gill, who arrived after the others had voted. [He eventually voted, but declined to say how].
Before the session turned acrimonious, Hays laughingly remarked that the debate proved that "it's not only Democrats who can have a difference of opinion and then join forces" behind the winning faction.
The post-vote debate on whether the committee should withdraw its support for the amendment, first approved in 1976 and then incorporated in the Republican national platform, produced arguments similar to those put forward in the various legislatures that have considered ratification. Six states have ratified the amendment and 10 others have rejected it.