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of persons in such communities under the Constitution or laws of the United States or which affect or may affect interstate commerce." The Service would have no powers of compulsion or law enforcement functions and would treat as confidential any information it received as such. [Emphasis supplied.]
In the question and answer portion of the discussion, the following
Question. Why not leave these duties (those of the Community Relations Service) up to the Justice Department?
Answer. The Department has, in individual cases, attempted to work alongthis line, as necessary on an emergency basis. But a mediating agency, separate from the Department of Justice whose duties are chiefly investigation and litigation, would be preferable. In fact, the bill specifically provides that the Service is not to be involved in any investigative or prosecutive functions. The disputes which the Service would seek to conciliate are those relating to racially discriminatory practices “which impair the rights of persons in such communities under the Constitution or laws of the United States or which affect or may affect interstate commerce." It is therefore logical that the Service be established in the Department of Commerce. [Emphasis supplied.]
On the Senate floor, similar emphasis was placed on the usefulness of an agency for conciliation and mediation with no powers of law enforcement. The floor manager of the bill, the then Senator Humphrey, put it this way:
Title X establishes a Community Relations Service to assist local communities and individuals in the voluntary adjustment of disputes and difficulties arising from discriminaton based on race, color, or national origin. The Service would consist of a Director and a small staff. It would have no law enforcement responsibilities and no powers of compulsion. It would preserve the confidentiality of information it receives, as such, in the course of its duties. I would cooperate wherever possible with State and local agencies.
Experience has shown the value of voluntary adjustment and negotiation as a means to solving racial problems. Many communities, by the use of such methods, have made remarkable progress in the elimination of discrimination and other grievances. In other communities, however, lack of adequate communication between white and Negro leaders precludes even a start toward adjustment of difficulties. In some instances Justice Department officials, acting informally and ad hoc, have been able to bring parties together to find agreed solutions to particular problems. However, no existing Federal agency is equipped to perform such mediation and conciliation as a regular and continuing function.
Senator Humphrey pointed to experience with labor disputes, saying:
Mediation and conciliation of civil rights disputes should prove no less useful a tool than it has in the area of labor disputes. Titles VI and VII of the bill specifically provide for use of informal methods of conference, conciliation, and persuasion. Such methods are equally appropriate under other titles. * * *
As these excerpts indicate, the confidence in which an independent Service would hold its discussions and negotiations was considered a most important tool to its effectiveness. The title as passed reflects this concern.
Section 1003 of the Civil Rights Act authorizes the Service to cooperate with appropriate State or local public or private agencies. It requires conciliation services to be conducted in confidence and without publicity, and that any information the Service acquires upon the understanding that it be held confidential shall be held confidential. No officer or employee of the Service is to engage in the performance of any investigation or prosecuting function in any litigation arising out of a dispute in which he acted on behalf of the Service. Disclosure of information in violation of these provisions is
punishable by a fine of not more that $1,000 or imprisonment for not more than 1 year.
Section 1004, relating to the Director's annual report, expressly prohibits disclosure of information in violation of section 1003, even to Congress. Under section 204 (d) of the 1964 act, the Federal courts are given discretion to refer a public accommodations controversy to the Service for voluntary settlement. Section 205, however, expressly provides that all hearings by the Service in this regard must be held in executive session, and no testimony may be released except by agreement of the parties with permission of the court.
Without these guarantees it is extremely doubtful that the Service could operate effectively. How many employers would enter into negotiations if any information obtained during the course of such negotiations could later be used against them in connection with an investigation of an unlawful employment practice charge under title VII? The number of such examples is endless since the 1964 Civil Rights Act authorizes Federal litigation in the areas of voting rights, places of public accommodations, public facilities, public schools, employment, and the denial of 14th amendment rights.
I am, of course, aware of the President's statement and of the Justice Department's expressed intent that the transfer will be carried out with "full regard for the provisions of section 1003 of title X of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 relating to (1) cooperation with appropriate State or local, public, or private agencies; (2) the confidentiality of information acquired with the understanding that it would be so held; and (3) the limitation on the performance of investigative or prosecutive functions by personnel of the Service."
I do not doubt their sincerity. It was, however, disquieting to read the testimony of the Attorney General at the hearings held recently by the subcommittee. I note his statement that he takes the statutory mandate on confidentiality to mean chiefly that information available to him or the Department of Justice through the Community Relations Service shall "not be given publicity." He agreed that, in the light of the provision of the public accommodations section which permits the courts to refer cases to the Community Service, the courts could find themselves in the position of referring, for purposes of conciliation, a case being prosecuted by the Department of Justice to the Department of Justice. He expressed the hope that "not much" inhibition would result.
Generally the Attorney General based the case for transfer on the great change in circumstances in the last 22 years. There has indeed been change, change that appears to me to give greater opportunity for an independent Community Relations Service to work toward what it described in its 1965 report as the "most important general goal of CRS conciliation activity." That is "to assist communities in every way possible to help themselves achieve voluntary and peaceful compliance with Federal civil rights laws." I am all for strengthening the Service to enable it to carry out that responsibility most effectively. The heart of my concern is whether the proposed transfer is the best way to do that.
Given the statutory limitations on the CRS, I fail to see why the Service and the Department cannot work together as effectively and as advantageously without the Service being lodged in the Department of Justice and subject to the Attorney General.
If the problem is one of personnel and funds, again I fail to see why transfer to the Department of Justice improves the outlook over the long run for strengthening the Service. I have served for several years on the appropriations subcommittee which handles the requests of the Department of Justice. The failure of the Department in the past to press for the additional staff so obviously needed by its sorely pressed and overworked Civil Rights Division does not inspire confidence in its solicitude for the CRS.
Many factors militate against the transfer. I have yet to learn of the advantages that would offset them. If this transfer is permitted, it will set a precedent that we may rue in the future.
Senator HARRIS. Without objection, the record of the hearing on this subject will be kept open for 1 week for the filing of views by others.
This hearing is adjourned.
The committee is recessed subject to the call of the Chair.
Thank you all.
(Whereupon, at 12:40 o'clock p.m., the subcommittee was recessed, subject to the call of the Chair.)
WASHINGTON, D.C., March 21, 1966.
Hon. JOHN MCCLELLAN,
Government Operations Committee,
We support President Lyndon Johnson's plan to transfer the Community Relations Service from the Department of Commerce to the Department of Justice. In these times there is great need for close coordination of the activities in the area of civil rights. We have explored the issues connected with the transfer and it is our considered judgment that the President's proposal will enable the Community Relations Service to function effectively and expeditiously. It is our understanding that the Director of the Service will have the rank of Assistant Attorney General under the new arrangement. We are further advised that the administration hopes to expand the staff and duties that the Service is called upon to perform. Therefore, we respectfully urge that your committee give a favorable report on Reorganization Plan No. 1. We request that this telegram be made a part of the hearing record on the reorganization plan.