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RFK Pushes Administration’s Civil Rights Bill

July 1, 1963 - Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy asked the Senate today to pass a strong public accommodations bill in order to root out “the evils which have caused recent demonstrations.” Mr. Kennedy, appearing at the opening of hearings by the Senate Commerce Committee, offered to work with the Senators to “sharpen” the Administration’s civil rights bill, but he pleaded with them not to “create loopholes or water it down.” In his opening statement before a standing-room-only audience, he said: “All thinking Americans have grown increasingly aware that discrimination must stop — not only because it is legally insupportable, economically wasteful, and socially destructive, but above all because it is morally wrong.” Sen. Mike Monroney (D-Okla.) said the act would be “a giant step of government powers into business” and suggested it might be “stretching the commerce clause in the Constitution.” Mr. Kennedy replied that there was plenty of precedent for such authority.


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