Copeland anti-lynching rider amendments
The Copeland anti-lynching rider amendments were two legislative efforts to enact federal anti-lynching law by attaching the text of the Wagner–Van Nuys Act to New Deal legislation. The Act, stalled in 1937 as the U.S. Senate took up the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill (known as the court packing plan), was proposed by New York conservative Democratic senator Royal Copeland as a rider to the Interstate Commerce Act and a wage bill.
Whether a legitimate effort at enacting civil rights legislation or more a game of political football, the Copeland riders united Republicans and the minority of pro–civil rights Democrats, temporarily exacerbating a fracture within the New Deal Coalition—had the rider successfully been attached to the New Deal–related bills, Southern Democrats would subsequently prevent the passage of the main legislation altogether to avoid the enactment of civil rights provisions. Northern Democratic senator Robert F. Wagner, a leading Senate sponsor of anti-lynching legislation in the 1930s, objected to the first rider along with Frederick Van Nuys, though both voted against tabling the second one.
Both rider amendments failed to pass; the first, proposed as an attachment to the freight bill, was tabled on July 26 by a 41–34 vote, and the second rider five days later by a 46–39 tally. In both votes, a large portion of Northern Democrats contributed to the majority needed by their Southern counterparts to kill Copeland's anti-lynching rider proposals.
The Wagner–Van Nuys Act was ultimately filibustered to death in early 1938.
- July 27, 1937. ANTI-LYNCHING BILL REJECTED AS RIDER; Senate by Vote of 41 to 34 Defeats It as Amendment to Freight Car Measure. The New York Times. Retrieved May 21, 2023.
- Simmons-Boardman Publishing Company (July 1937). Railway Age: Vol. 103. p. 133. Google Books. Retrieved May 29, 2023.
- August 1, 1937. COPELAND SEES DOOM OF ANTI-LYNCHING BILL; But Defeat of Plan to Attach It to Wage Measure Fails to Kill hopes of Others in Senate. The New York Times. Retrieved May 21, 2023.
- Holmes, Michael Stephan (1965). The Costigan–Wagner and Wagner–Van Nuys Anti-lynching Bills, 1933–1938, p. 44. Google Books. Retrieved May 21, 2023.
- August 6, 1937. The Commonweal, Vol. 26, Iss. 15. Internet Archive. Retrieved May 29, 2023.
- July 26, 1937. TO TABLE AN AMENDMENT TO S. 69, THE INTERSTATE COMMERCE ACT. THE AMEND. OFFERED BY SENATOR COPELAND WHICH WOULD HAVE ADDED HOUSE BILL 1507, THE ANTILYNCHING BILL, TO S. 69, A BILL LIMITING THE SIZE OF TRAINS IN INTERSTATE COMMERCE. GovTrack.us. Retrieved May 29, 2023.
- July 31, 1937. TO TABLE AN AMENDMENT TO S. 2475. OFFERED BY SENATOR COPELAND WHICH WOULD HAVE ADDED THE ANTILYNCHING BILL AS PERFECTED BY THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY TO THE PENDING LEGISLATION. GovTrack.us. Retrieved May 29, 2023.
- Ridding Congress of Riders: The Case for a Single Subject Amendment – The James Madison Institute