- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 5, 2000

When it comes to using deceit to make his argument, Vice President Al Gore Jr. never fails to meet the challenge. To understand the full extent of the insincerity that accompanied the vice president's campaign-finance-reform plan last week, consider how he began and ended the speech in which he proposed it.

"I want to begin by sharing the words of another great advocate of political reform," Mr. Gore said, referring to his father, former Tennessee Sen. Al Gore Sr. Citing a speech given "four decades ago," the vice president quoted his father thusly: "I am one who believes in the principle of one man, one vote. I believe in the 'equality of opportunity, rights and privileges' (and one of these rights) is the right to have an equal influence on the selection of public officials." At the end of last week's speech, Vice President Gore said, "If we believe in the ideal of one person, one vote, as my father so strongly did, then let us fight for the reforms that make sure every vote counts equally."

As he has throughout his presidential campaign, to say nothing of his political career, Mr. Gore has once again resorted to a family anecdote to demonstrate the supposedly deep roots of his righteousness. But how "strongly" did his father really believe in the doctrine of one person, one vote? Not strongly enough, it seems. In fact, the elder Gore thumbed his nose at that very doctrine during the very month the Supreme Court established it.

It was June 1964, less than five months before the elder Gore was to face Tennessee voters. Southern Democrats, representing the powerful segregationist wing of the party, were in the midst of a 57-day filibuster to prevent the Senate from voting on the Civil Rights Act. Title I of the legislation established numerous voting rights for racial minorities. Other sections addressed equal employment opportunity, discrimination in public accommodations and segregation of public facilities, including schools. On June 10, 1964, Sen. Al Gore Sr., displaying a complete lack of political courage, resisted the pressure applied by President Johnson to vote to end the filibuster. He joined 19 other Southern Democratic senators and voted in favor of continuing to talk the civil rights bill to death. In all fairness, a number of conservative senators held the same position; however, 82 percent of Senate Republicans voted to end debate, thus freeing the legislation for an up-or-down vote later that month.

On June 15, 1964, five days after the Senate voted to end the filibuster and four days before it voted on the Civil Rights Act itself, the Supreme Court, in a 8-1 ruling in Reynolds vs. Sims, announced its landmark decision establishing the one person, one vote doctrine. Declaring the legislative boundaries of six states to be unconstitutional, the Court ruled that representation in state legislatures must be substantially based on population. The Supreme Court based its decision on the post-Civil War 14th Amendment's provision that "no state shall … deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws," which, the Court reasoned, "demands no less than substantially equal state legislative representation for all citizens … of all races."

The Court's timely decision had no effect on Sen. Gore. On June 19, 1964, the senior Gore once again joined the segregationist, anti-voting-rights wing of his party and voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Once again, Republican votes carried the day for President Johnson, who remarked, "This bill goes further to invest the rights of man with the protection of law than any legislation in this century." But no thanks to Al Gore Sr. That November, in part because of his votes against the 1964 Civil Rights Act earlier that year, Sen. Al Gore Sr. was re-elected. Safely back in his Senate seat, Mr. Gore apparently had an epiphany and voted in favor of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

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