1964 June 10

Historic Filibuster Ends; Path Cleared for 1964 Civil Rights Act


The civil rights bill before Congress in the spring of 1964 was almost certain to pass, but southern segregationists resorted to their only remaining weapon, a filibuster, to in their minds block its passage. The filibuster that began on March 30, 1964 paralyzed the Senate for 57 working days. On this day, a coalition of liberal Republicans and Democrats from outside the South voted for a cloture motion shutting off debate and ending the filibuster. Cloture required 67 votes, but the actual vote was 71–29. The civil rights bill quickly passed both houses of Congress and President Lyndon Johnson signed the historic 1964 Civil Rights Act on July 2, 1964.

HISTORICAL NOTE ON FILIBUSTERS: In the 1960s, senators had to actually speak continuously to maintain a filibuster. In recent years, as a result of Senate rules changes, senators only have to say they are going to filibuster and a bill is blocked from consideration.

Read: Todd Purdom, An Idea Whose Time Has Come: Two Presidents, Two Parties, and the Battle for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (2014)

Read about President Lyndon Johnson and the 1964 Civil Rights bill: Robert Caro, The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson (2012)

Learn about the history of the filibuster: http://www.brookings.edu/research/testimony/2010/04/22-filibuster-binder

Learn more about the Senate and the filibuster: Sarah A. Binder and Steven S. Smith, Politics or Principle?: Filibustering in the United States Senate (1997)

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