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JFK: I Don’t Have Power to Defund Mississippi

Apr. 19, 1963 - President Kennedy (pictured today with Lee Hills, president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors) said today that he did not have and did not want the power to deny Federal funds to the state of Mississippi. That step was suggested to him this week by the Civil Rights Commission, which said the state was making deliberate efforts to deny voting and other legal rights to Negroes. “I don’t have the power to cut off the aid in a general way as was proposed by the Civil Rights Commission,” Mr. Kennedy said in reply to a question at a luncheon of the American Society of Newspaper Editors. “I think it would probably be unwise” to give that power to the President, he said. If the President were so empowered, it would be possible for him to cut off Federal funds to any state “which was not measuring up as the President would like to see it measure up in one way or another,” Mr. Kennedy said.


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