In his March 30 column, “Restore the talking filibuster,” George F. Will inquired whether anyone can “name anything that a majority of Americans have desired, strongly and protractedly, that has been denied to them because of a filibuster.” Challenge accepted.
According to The Post, from 1882 to 1968, more than 4,700 Americans were lynched, the majority of them black men at the hands of white mobs. By the end of World War I, Rep. Leonidas C. Dyer (R-Mo.) had introduced legislation to make lynching a federal crime; in the 1920s, his proposal passed the House of Representatives repeatedly but was stifled in the Senate by Southern filibusters. In the 1930s, similar legislation was championed by Sen. Robert F. Wagner (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Edward P. Costigan (D-Colo.). On Jan. 31, 1937, the Gallup Poll found that fully 70 percent of the American people supported such a bill, and companion legislation overwhelmingly passed the House. Yet a Southern filibuster of the Senate bill tied up that chamber from Jan. 6 through Feb. 21, 1938; as relief appropriations and other bills stacked up in the ensuing logjam and cloture votes continued to fail, the anti-lynching law was eventually withdrawn.
It would not be until 2005 that the Senate would “approve a resolution apologizing for its failure to enact federal anti-lynching legislation.”
Robert Chiles, Baltimore