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Ted Kennedy on Civil Rights

Democratic Sr Senator (MA)


1987: "Robert Bork's America" means censorship & segregation

Reagan nominated Bork for the seat on July 1, 1987. Within 45 minutes, Ted Kennedy took to the Senate floor with a strong condemnation of Bork in a nationally televised speech, declaring: "Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers & artists could be censored at the whim of the Government, & the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is--and is often the only--protector of the individual rights that are the heart of our democracy. No justice would be better than this injustice."

Bork complained that "There was not a line in that speech that was accurate." In its obituary of Kennedy, The Economist remarked that Bork was correct about the inaccuracy of Kennedy's speech, "But it worked."

Source: Wikipedia.org, "Robert Bork", re: Slouching Towards Gomorrah , Nov 17, 2009

Alito joined CAP when CAP’s racism was in the news

SEN. KENNEDY: You indicated in 1985 that you were a member of the Concerned Alumni at Princeton. You called CAP a “conservative alumni group.” CAP published a 1983 essay stating, “Everywhere one turns, blacks & Hispanics are demanding jobs simply because they’re black & Hispanic.”

ALITO: I disagree with that. I would never endorse it.

KENNEDY: A letter from CAP mailed in 1984-this is the year before you put CAP on your application-to every living alumni, so I assume you received it-which declared: “Princeton is no longer the university you knew it to be.” As evidence, it cited that admission rates for African-Americans and Hispanics were on the rise. This letter was the subject of a Jan. 1985 Wall Street Journal editorial. This would be right about the time that you joined the organization.

ALITO: I do not recall knowing any of these things about the organization. What I do recall as an issue that bothered me was the idea of that it was beneath Princeton to have an ROTC unit on campus.

Source: Sam Alito Senate Confirmation Hearings , Jan 11, 2006

ADA applies to private sector as well as public sector

Americans with disabilities deserve the opportunity to be 1st class citizens in our society. The road to discrimination is paved with good intentions. For years, because of our concern for the less fortunate, we have tolerated a status of 2nd class citizenship for our disabled fellow citizens.

The Americans with Disabilities Act will end this American Apartheid. It will roll back the unthinking and unacceptable practices by which disabled Americans today are segregated, excluded, and fenced off from fair participation in our society by mindless biased attitudes and senseless physical barriers.

The ADA applies to both the public sector and the private sector. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, public accommodations, transportation and communications. Its goal is nothing less than to give every disabled American a fair share of the American dream.

Source: A Patriot's Handbook, by Caroline Kennedy, p.332-333 , May 9, 1989

Equal Rights Amendment recognizes "Founding Mothers"

We can be proud that our party stands plainly, publicly, and persistently for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. Women hold their rightful place at our convention; and women must have their rightful place in the Constitution of the US. On this issue, we will not yield, we will not equivocate, we will not rationalize, explain, or excuse. We will stand for ERA and for the recognition at long last that our nation had not only founding fathers but founding mothers as well.
Source: A Patriot's Handbook, by Caroline Kennedy, p.559 , Aug 12, 1980

Voted NO on recommending Constitutional ban on flag desecration.

The Senate voted on a resolution which would recommend a Constitutional Amendment banning flag desecration (not a vote on the Amendment itself). The resolution states:
  1. the flag of the US is a unique symbol of national unity...
  2. the Bill of Rights should not be amended in a manner that could be interpreted to restrict freedom...
  3. abuse of the flag causes more than pain and distress... and may amount to fighting words...
  4. destruction of the flag of the US can be intended to incite a violent response rather than make a political statement and such conduct is outside the protections afforded by the first amendment to the Constitution.
Reference: Flag Desecration Amendment; Bill S.J.Res.12 ; vote number 2006-189 on Jun 27, 2006

Voted NO on constitutional ban of same-sex marriage.

Voting YES implies support for amending the constitution to ban same-sex marriage. This cloture motion to end debate requires a 3/5th majority. A constitutional amendment requires a 2/3rd majority. The proposed amendment is:
Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.
Reference: Marriage Protection Amendment; Bill S. J. Res. 1 ; vote number 2006-163 on Jun 7, 2006

Voted YES on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes.

Motion to Invoke Cloture on S. 625; Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act of 2001. The bill would expand the definition of hate crimes to incorporate acts committed because of a victim's sex, sexual orientation or disability and permit the federal government to help states prosecute hate crimes even if no federally protected action was implicated. If the cloture motion is agreed to, debate will be limited and a vote will occur. If the cloture motion is rejected debate could continue indefinitely and instead the bill is usually set aside. Hence a Yes vote supports the expansion of the definition of hate crimes, and a No vote keeps the existing definition. Three-fifths of the Senate, or 60 members, is required to invoke cloture.
Reference: Bill S.625 ; vote number 2002-147 on Jun 11, 2002

Voted YES on loosening restrictions on cell phone wiretapping.

Motion to table (kill) the amendment that would provide that in order to conduct roving surveillance, the person implementing the order must ascertain that the target of the surveillance is present in the house or is using the phone that has been tapped.
Reference: Bill S1510 ; vote number 2001-300 on Oct 11, 2001

Voted YES on expanding hate crimes to include sexual orientation.

Vote on an amendment that would expand the definition of hate crimes to include gender, sexual orientation and disability. The previous definition included only racial, religious or ethnic bias.
Reference: Bill S.2549 ; vote number 2000-136 on Jun 20, 2000

Voted YES on setting aside 10% of highway funds for minorities & women.

Vote to table, or kill, an amendment to repeal the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise [DBE] Program, which requires no less than 10% of highway construction projects funded by the federal government to be contracted to 'disadvantaged business enterprises'
Reference: Bill S.1173 ; vote number 1998-23 on Mar 6, 1998

Voted NO on ending special funding for minority & women-owned business.

This legislation would have abolished a program that helps businesses owned by women or minorities compete for federally funded transportation.
Status: Cloture Motion Rejected Y)48; N)52
Reference: Motion to invoke cloture; Bill S.1173 ; vote number 1997-275 on Oct 23, 1997

Voted NO on prohibiting same-sex marriage.

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA): Vote to prohibit marriage between members of the same sex in federal law, and provide that no state is required to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. Define 'marriage' as 'between one man and one woman.'
Reference: Bill HR 3396 ; vote number 1996-280 on Sep 10, 1996

Voted YES on prohibiting job discrimination by sexual orientation.

Would have prohibited job discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Status: Bill Defeated Y)49; N)50; NV)1
Reference: Employment Non-Discrimination Act; Bill S. 2056 ; vote number 1996-281 on Sep 10, 1996

Voted NO on Amendment to prohibit flag burning.

Approval of a constitutional amendment which would prohibit desecration or burning of the U.S. flag.
Status: Joint Res. Defeated Y)63; N)36
Reference: Flag Desecration Bill; Bill S. J. Res. 31 ; vote number 1995-600 on Dec 12, 1995

Voted NO on banning affirmative action hiring with federal funds.

Vote to disallow any funds in the Legislative Appropriations bill from being used to award, require, or encourage any Federal contract, if the contract is being awarded on the basis of the race, color, national origin, or gender of the contractor.
Reference: Bill HR 1854 ; vote number 1995-317 on Jul 20, 1995

Rated 60% by the ACLU, indicating a mixed civil rights voting record.

Kennedy scores 60% by the ACLU on civil rights issues

We work also to extend rights to segments of our population that have traditionally been denied their rights, including Native Americans and other people of color; lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgendered people; women; mental-health patients; prisoners; people with disabilities; and the poor. If the rights of society’s most vulnerable members are denied, everybody’s rights are imperiled.

Our ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.

Source: ACLU website 02n-ACLU on Dec 31, 2002

Sponsored bill for special-needs evacuation plans.

Kennedy introduced including special-needs people in emergency evacuation plans

OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: A bill to ensure the evacuation of individuals with special needs in times of emergency.

SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY REMARKS: Sen. OBAMA: One of the most striking things about the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina is that the majority of stranded victims were our society's most vulnerable members--low-income families, the elderly, the homeless, the disabled. Many did not own cars. Many believed themselves unable to flee the city, unable to forego the income from missed work, unable to incur the expenses of travel, food and lodging. Some may have misunderstood the severity of the warnings, if they heard the warnings at all. Some may have needed help that was unavailable. Whatever the reason, they were not evacuated and we have seen the horrific results.

This failure to evacuate so many of the most desperate citizens of the Gulf Coast leads me to introduce today a bill to require states and the nation to consider the needs of our neediest citizens in times of emergency. It appears that certain assumptions were made in planning and preparing for the worst case scenario in the Gulf Coast. After all, most of those who could afford to evacuate managed to do so. They drove out of town and checked into hotels or stayed with friends and family. But what about the thousands of people left behind because they had special needs?

Communities with special needs may be more challenging to accommodate, but they are every bit as important to protect and serve in the event of an emergency. What we saw in the Gulf Coast cannot be repeated. We may not be able to control the wrath of Mother Nature, but we can control how we prepare for natural disasters.

LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Referred to Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; never came to a vote.

Source: Emergency planning bill (S.1685) 05-S1685 on Sep 12, 2005

Sponsored bill for a Rosa Parks commemorative postage stamp.

Kennedy introduced issuing a commemorative postage stamp of Rosa Parks

EXCERPTS OF RESOLUTION:

LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Referred to Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; never came to a vote.
Source: Rosa Parks Stamp (S.2154/H.R.4343) 05-S2154 on Dec 20, 2005

Rated 100% by the HRC, indicating a pro-gay-rights stance.

Kennedy scores 100% by the HRC on gay rights

OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2005-2006 HRC scores as follows:

About the HRC (from their website, www.hrc.org):

The Human Rights Campaign represents a grassroots force of more than 700,000 members and supporters nationwide. As the largest national gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, HRC envisions an America where GLBT people are ensured of their basic equal rights, and can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.

Ever since its founding in 1980, HRC has led the way in promoting fairness for GLBT Americans. HRC is a bipartisan organization that works to advance equality based on sexual orientation and gender expression and identity.

Source: HRC website 06n-HRC on Dec 31, 2006

Rated 100% by the NAACP, indicating a pro-affirmative-action stance.

Kennedy scores 100% by the NAACP on affirmative action

OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2005-2006 NAACP scores as follows:

About the NAACP (from their website, www.naacp.org):

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has worked over the years to support and promote our country's civil rights agenda. Since its founding in 1909, the NAACP has worked tirelessly to end racial discrimination while also ensuring the political, social, and economic equality of all people. The Association will continue this mission through its policy initiatives and advocacy programs at the local, state, and national levels. From the ballot box to the classroom, the dedicated workers, organizers, and leaders who forged this great organization and maintain its status as a champion of social justice, fought long and hard to ensure that the voices of African Americans would be heard. For nearly one hundred years, it has been the talent and tenacity of NAACP members that has saved lives and changed many negative aspects of American society.

Source: NAACP website 06n-NAACP on Dec 31, 2006

Recognize Juneteenth as historical end of slavery.

Kennedy co-sponsored recognizing Juneteenth as historical end of slavery

A resolution recognizing the historical significance of Juneteenth Independence Day and expressing that history should be regarded as a means for understanding the past and solving the challenges of the future.

Recognizes the historical significance to the nation, and supports the continued celebration, of Juneteenth Independence Day (June 19, 1865, the day Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, with news that the Civil War had ended and that the enslaved African Americans were free). Declares the sense of Congress that:

  1. history should be regarded as a means for understanding the past and solving the challenges of the future; and
  2. the celebration of the end of slavery is an important and enriching part of the history and heritage of the United States.
Legislative Outcome: House versions are H.CON.RES.155 and H.RES.1237; related Senate resolution S.RES.584 counts for sponsorship. Resolution agreed to in Senate, by Unanimous Consent.
Source: S.RES.584 08-SR584 on Jun 4, 2008

ENDA: prohibit employment discrimination for gays.

Kennedy signed H.R.3017&S.1584

Prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity by covered entities (employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, or joint labor-management committees). Prohibits preferential treatment or quotas. Allows only disparate treatment claims. Prohibits related retaliation.

    Makes this Act inapplicable to:
  1. religious organizations; and
  2. the relationship between the United States and members of the Armed Forces.
Source: Employment Non-Discrimination Act 09-HR3017 on Jun 24, 2009

Provide benefits to domestic partners of Federal employees.

Kennedy co-sponsored providing benefits to domestic partners of Federal employees

Sen. LIEBERMAN: This legislation would require the Government to extend employee benefit programs to the same-sex domestic partners of Federal employees. It is sound public policy and it makes excellent business sense.

Under our bill, Federal employee and the employee's domestic partner would be eligible to participate in benefits to the same extent that married employees and their spouses participate. Employees and their partners would also assume the same obligations that apply to married employees and their spouses, such as anti-nepotism rules and financial disclosure requirements.

The Federal Government is our Nation's largest employer and should lead other employers, rather than lagging behind, in the quest to provide equal and fair compensation and benefits to all employees. That thousands of Federal workers who have dedicated their careers to public service and who live in committed relationships with same-sex domestic partners receive fewer protections for their families than those married employees is patently unfair and, frankly, makes no economic sense.

I call upon my colleagues to express their support for this important legislation. It is time for the Federal Government to catch up to the private sector, not just to set an example but so that it can compete for the most qualified employees and ensure that all of our public servants receive fair and equitable treatment. It makes good economic and policy senses. It is the right thing to do.

SUMMARY: Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act of 2007

Source: Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act (S.2521/H.R.4838) 2007-S2521 on Dec 19, 2007

Re-introduce the Equal Rights Amendment.

Kennedy sponsored re-introducing the Equal Rights Amendment

Sen. KENNEDY. "It's a privilege to join my colleagues in reintroducing the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution. The ERA is essential to guarantee that the freedoms protected by our Constitution apply equally to men and women. From the beginning of our history as a Nation, women have had to wage a constant, long and difficult battle to win the same basic rights granted to men. That battle goes on today, since discrimination still continues in many ways.

"Despite passage of the Equal Pay Act & the Civil Rights Act in the 1960s, discrimination against women continues to permeate the workforce and many areas of the economy. Today, women earn about 77 cents for each dollar earned by men, and the gap is even greater for women of color. More than 60% of working women are still clustered in a narrow range of traditionally female, traditionally low-paying occupations, and female-headed households continue to dominate the bottom rungs of the economic ladder.

"A stronger effort is clearly needed to finally live up to our commitment of full equality. The ERA alone cannot remedy all discrimination, but it will clearly strengthen the ongoing efforts of women across the country to obtain equal treatment.

"We know from the failed ratification experiences of the past that amending the Constitution to include the ERA will not be easy to achieve. But the women of America deserve no less."

Source: Equal Rights Amendment (S.J.RES.10/H.J.RES.40) 2007-SJR10 on Mar 29, 2007

Reinforce anti-discrimination and equal-pay requirements.

Kennedy sponsored reinforcing anti-discrimination and equal-pay requirements

A bill to restore, reaffirm, and reconcile legal rights and remedies under civil rights statutes. Amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for:

  1. establishing discrimination based on disparate impact; and
  2. rights of action and recovery for unlawful discrimination.
Source: Civil Rights Act of 2008 (S.2554&H.R.5129) 2008-S2554 on Jan 24, 2008

Honor the 100th anniversary of the NAACP.

Kennedy signed bill honoring the 100th anniversary of the NAACP

    Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the Congress
  1. Recognizes the 100th anniversary of the historic founding of the NAACP.
  2. Honors and praises the NAACP on the occasion of its anniversary for its work to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of all persons.
Source: SCR.3&HCR.35 2009-SCR3 on Jan 28, 2009

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Page last updated: Oct 09, 2013