|John Richard Rarick|
January 3, 1967 – January 3, 1975
|Preceded by||James H. Morrison|
|Succeeded by||William Henson Moore, III|
|Born|| January 29, 1924|
Waterford, LaPorte County
|Died|| September 14, 2009|
St. Francisville, West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana
|Resting place||Star Hill Cemetery near St. Francisville|
|Political party||Democrat-turned-Independent (1976)|
|Children|| John Rarick, II
Cherie Rarick Brumfield
|Alma mater|| Goshen (Indiana) High School|
|Service/branch||United States Army Specialized Training Program|
|Years of service||World War II|
|Battles/wars|| European Theater of Operations:|
|Awards|| Bronze Star|
John Richard Rarick (January 29, 1924 – September 14, 2009) was an American attorney who served as a Louisiana state district court judge from 1961 to 1966 in St. Francisville in West Feliciana Parish, and from 1967 to 1975 a Democratic U.S. Representative for Louisiana's 6th congressional district.
A staunch conservative, he frequently quarreled with his party's increasingly liberal philosophy and leadership. In 1980, he did not support Republican Ronald W. Reagan in the race against Jimmy Carter but himself sought the presidency as the nominee of the former American Independent Party, founded in 1968 by former Governor George C. Wallace of Alabama.
- 1 Background
- 2 Political career
- 2.1 Unseating U.S. Representative Jimmy Morrison
- 2.2 Challenging John McKeithen
- 2.3 Segregation and charges of racism
- 2.4 Supporting George Wallace
- 2.5 Anti-communism and the Vietnam War
- 2.6 Anti-establishment congressman
- 2.7 Other issues
- 2.8 Losing re-nomination in 1974
- 2.9 Candidate for AIP presidential nomination, 1976
- 2.10 Running for Congress again, 1976
- 2.11 AIP presidential nominee, 1980
- 2.12 Later politics
- 3 Honors
- 4 Death and legacy
- 5 See also
- 6 References
Rarick was born in rural Waterford in LaPorte County in northwestern Indiana. He graduated from Goshen High School in Goshen, Indiana and studied at Ball State University (then Teacher's College) in Muncie, Indiana.
Rarick then entered the United States Army's Specialized Training Program and was sent to Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, where he lived in the college barracks. He was then dispatched to the European Theater of Operations with the infantry during World War II. He was captured at the Battle of the Bulge and later escaped from a German prisoner of war camp at Würzburg. He was awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.
After his military service, Rarick obtained his bachelor's degree from LSU. He then attended Tulane University Law School in New Orleans, from which he graduated with an LLB and then a Juris Doctorate in 1949. He was admitted to the Louisiana state bar later that year and set up a law practice in St. Francisville north of Baton Rouge. He was a member of the Louisiana State Bar Association for more than sixty years.
On June 28, 1961, he was elected as a judge of the 20th Judicial District in East and West Feliciana parishes. He resigned the judgeship on May 15, 1966, to declare his candidacy for Congress.
Unseating U.S. Representative Jimmy Morrison
Rarick had been a member of the Democratic Party in Indiana and for a time was the party's city chairman in Goshen. He remained a Democrat when he moved to Louisiana. In the summer of 1966, Rarick upset veteran U.S. Representative James Hobson "Jimmy" Morrison (no relation to Chep Morrison) of Hammond in Tangipohoa Parish in a closed Democratic primary runoff election with 51.2 percent of the vote. Morrison though an opponet of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had a "moderate racial record" and was attacked in the campaign by Rarick as an ally of "the black-power voting bloc" and being an "LBJ rubber stamp". Rarick campaigned on "a segregationist, anti-Johnson and anti-federal government theme." Morrison accused Rarick of being a member of the Ku Klux Klan, for which Rarick sued Morrison for libel.
Rarick's victory coincided with the selection of another controversial conservative, Lester Maddox as the Democratic gubernatorial nominee in Georgia. Incidentally, both Rarick and his 1966 Republican opponent, Crayton Green "Sparky" Hall (c. 1925-2014), later left their major parties. In 1976, Hall was the 6th congressional district elector for the Libertarian Party . Hall polled only 23 percent of the ballots cast in his race against Rarick. A native of Columbus, Georgia who was reared in Leesville in Vernon Parish, Louisiana, Hall was a process development engineer for the Ethyl Corporation in Baton Rouge. He ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for mayor-president of East Baton Rouge Parish in 1968 against the Democrat Woodrow Wilson Dumas. He was a floor representative for Ronald Reagan's 72-hour presidential bid at the 1968 Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, Florida. Hall soon left the GOP and was the founding chairman of the Louisiana Libertarian Party from the early 1970s until 1985, when he relocated to North Carolina, where he was an active Libertarian in that state as well. He died in Hendersonville, North Carolina, at the age of eighty-nine.
Rarick quickly compiled a very conservative voting record, even by Louisiana Democratic standards. According to one scoring method, published in The American Journal of Political Science, In a period of four years, 1971 to 1974, the American Conservative Union scored Rarick 100 three times and a 91 rating once, in 1973. Like colleague Joe D. Waggonner Jr., of the 4th congressional district, Rarick was a former member of the pro-segregation White Citizens' Council, founded in the middle 1950s by Louisiana state Senator William Rainach of Claiborne Parish. Rarick also spoke at events sponsored by the anti-communist John Birch Society.
Challenging John McKeithen
In November 1967, with less than a year of congressional service to his credit, Rarick challenged popular Democratic Governor John J. McKeithen for re-nomination. Rarick secured the support of various "far right" groups in the state, but was badly defeated, having polled only 17.3 percent of the two-candidate vote to McKeithen's 80.7 percent. Rarick did not poll a gubernatorial majority even among those voters who expected the next year to support George Wallace for president.
During the primary campaign for the gubernatorial nomination, three or four men in a car fired four quick shots at the congressman in a New Orleans parking lot. Rarick told the media: "The whole thing happened about like the flip of a finger. At first it sounded like someone threw a cherry bomb. Then I turned around and looked at this car. This fellow was pointing a gun right at me. The shots kept coming. I jumped between cars ... I couldn't even tell you how many shots were fired."
Segregation and charges of racism
On June 13, 1967, Rarick introduced H.R. 208 which asked Congress to renounce the validity of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution; Rarick presented historical evidence gathered by Leander Henry Perez, Sr., of Plaquemines Parish purporting to show that the amendment was not validly adopted.
In the midst of rioting in Washington, D.C., following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Rarick called for a congressional investigation into the violence in the capital city, and remarked that the police and federal troops in the city had been "rendered ineffective" by orders which "utilized the forces of law and order to protect the looters and rioters from an angry citizenry." A year after King's death, Rarick branded him as "a Communist errand-boy" and a man "whose only claim to fame was disobedience of the law."
In 1969, Rarick was described as a "patsy" for neo-Nazis for having spoken at several Liberty Lobby rallies; similar charges were made against several other politicians of national standing. It was also alleged that Willis Carto's United Congressional Appeal made $3,000 contributions to Rarick and two other U.S. representatives.
In February 1971, when Captain Jerry B. Finley of Louisiana faced dismissal for refusing to shake hands with a black officer, Rarick called a news conference in Finley's defense. The Associated Press reported that Rarich said that in his state "it is not considered in good taste for a white person to shake hands with a black stranger."
In 1972, U.S. Representative Charles Coles Digg, Jr. (1922-1998), a Michigan Democrat and chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, called Rarick the "leading racist in this ([92nd Congress." The local audience applauded Diggs' remarks, a fact which Rarick felt was "a perfect example of why we should prohibit home rule for the District of Columbia."
On January 3, 1973, Rarick introduced a resolution asking for a concurrent resolution by Congress stating that the federal government, the states, and local governments could not bar the song "Dixie" from being played. The same day, he asked for a resolution that federal employees living in the District of Columbia must send their children to predominantly black public schools.
Supporting George Wallace
In 1968, Rarick won re-nomination by turning back a primary challenge from state Senator J. D. DeBlieux of Baton Rouge. DeBlieux (pronounced like the letter "W") was one of the first white politicians in Louisiana to have endorsed the civil rights agenda. By a 79-21 percent margin, Rarick then defeated the Republican congressional nominee, Loyd J. Rockhold (1922-2010).
In 1968, Rarick supported American Independent Party candidate George Wallace for president against Democrat Hubert Humphrey and Republican [[Richard Nixon. Like the Democratic Representatives Albert William Watson (1922-1994) of South Carolina and John Bell Williams (1918-1983) of Mississippi who had supported Republican Barry Goldwater of Arizona in the 1964 presidential election, Rarick was also stripped of seniority by the House Democratic Caucus for having openly supported Wallace.
Some Democrats were hesitant to discipline Rarick for concern that punitive action might make him a martyr in his district. Representative Richard Walker Bolling (1916-1991) of Missouri of the House Rules Committee, however, led the move to strip Rarick of his two years of seniority. Rarick depicted himself as one with "political leprosy ... a whipping boy to intimidate older party members, to frighten them ... so they will vote as a unity group." Since Rarick had only served a single term, the action was largely a symbolic gesture. Nonetheless, Rarick reportedly considered switching to the Republican Party but never did so. George Wallace carried the 6th district that Rarick represented by 54 percent and won Louisiana by a plurality vote of 48 percent statewide.
In 1969, Rarick wrote a letter supporting the New York City Democratic mayoral candidate Mario Angelo Procaccino (1912-1995) offering to campaign "either for or against you whichever will be more helpful." Procaccino was thereafter defeated by the incumbent liberal Republican John V. Lindsay, who in 1971 defected to the Democrats and unsuccessfully sought his new party's presidential nomination in 1972.
In 1972, as Rarick was re-elected to his fourth and final term, his home parish of West Feliciana was the only parish among the sixty-four parishes to support Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern for president over Richard Nixon.
Anti-communism and the Vietnam War
Once described as "a Communist-hater of mountainous rage," Rarick favored prosecution of the Vietnam War. He spoke at pro-war rallies with fellow anti-communist Carl McIntire. He remarked at an April 1970 rally that "A people with the intelligence, the skills, the financial resources and the organizational ability to place astronauts on the moon, not once, but repeatedly, is surely capable of military victory over a minor, backward, disorganized, fourth-rate dictatorship." At a May 1971 rally, he remarked that U.S. leaders "lack the guts to end the war in the five to six weeks every military leader says it will take." Rarick also joined Carl McIntire at a rally urging Nixon to cancel his 1972 visit to Communist China.
Rarick testified in favor of strengthening the McCarran Internal Security Act of 1950 and charged that the Subversive Activities Control Board was not doing its job.
Along with Republican Representative John Ashbrook of Ohio, who opposed Richard Nixon in a few primaries in 1972, Rarick regularly inserted accounts of terror tactics in the former South Vietnam into The Congressional Record.
In April 1971, mere days after Second Lieutenant William Laws Calley, Jr. (born 1943) was convicted of ordering the My Lai Massacre, Rarick offered an amendment, dedicated to Calley, which would have outlawed the prosecution of soldiers for killings during wartime. "We must tell every mother we shall not let another soldier be disgraced in this manner," Rarick said in advocacy of the amendment, "Isn't premeditated murder what war is all about?" The amendment was defeated by a voice vote.
In September 1971, twenty-one Senators and thirty-three House members, led by James Buckley (New York Conservative Party and Bill Brock (Tennessee Republican), called a press conference to urge that the Republic of China (Taiwan) not be expelled from the United Nations; some congressmen, however, expressed support for President Nixon's efforts to improve relationships with the People's Republic of China. The conference came to an abrupt end when Representative John G. Schmitz (California Republican) and Rarick stood up and walked out, with Schmitz saying, "Congressman Rarick and I are leaving, and you can take our names off that list. This is too weak a position."
Early in 1972, Rarick opposed President Nixon's latest peace proposal that would allow, when [the Paris Peace Accords were implemented in 1973, the acceptance of the Communist Party in a new government in South Vietnam. Rarick referred to Nixon as a "sellout" and one who catered to his own Democratic opponents. Colleague F. Edward Hébert, a Democrat from New Orleans, also known for his hawkish views on the war, however, defended Nixon's offer as sincere and workable.
In 1971, Rarick joined liberal Democratic U.S. Representatives Robert Louis Leggett (1926-1997) of California and Parren James Mitchell (1922-2007) of Maryland to sponsor the "People Power Over War Act," a proposed constitutional amendment requiring a national referendum on military action other than an invasion of the country. It was patterned after the former Ludlow Amendment. From 1935 to 1941, Representative Louis Leon Ludlow (1873-1950), a Democrat from Rarick's native Indiana, introduced legislation each year to oppose President Franklin D. Roosevelt's interventionist foreign policy. The text of the measure reads in part: "Except in the event of an attack or invasion the authority of Congress to declare war shall not become effective until confirmed by a majority of all votes cast thereon in a nationwide referendum."
Early in 1972, Democratic U.S. Senator Sam Ervin, of North Carolina disclosed that Army intelligence surveillance of civilian officials from late 1967 into 1970 was more extensive than had been previously revealed. In a brief filed with the United States Supreme Court, Ervin said that the Army had watched the political activities of certain public officials and retired politicians, including Rarick. Ervin said that the main targets were persons and organizations either opposed to the Vietnam War or considered "anti-establishment".
Among the measures that Rarick introduced in Congress were the following:
- H.R. 10851: A bill to provide that paper money carry a designation in Braille to indicate the denomination
- H.R. 6359: A bill to permit a deduction from gross annual income any expenses incurred in connection with the adoption of a child
- H.R. 118: A bill to permit citizens of the United States to acquire, hold, and dispose of gold
- H.R. 119: A bill to vest in the U.S. government unconditional ownership of the twelve Federal Reserve banks
- H.R. 960: A bill to reduce the public debt each fiscal year by at least 10 percent of the estimated overall federal receipts
- H.R. 5164: A bill to exempt law enforcement officer and firefighters from paying federal taxes on their first $5,000 of compensation in 1973 dollars
Rarick strongly opposed gun control and the registration of firearms, which he found to be at odds with the Second Amendment. Of the latter, he said in 1971, "History confirms that registration of firearms inevitably leads to confiscation, followed by enslavement of peoples." Also that year, he introduced a bill to repeal the Gun Control Act of 1968, which was signed into law by President Johnson.
In 1973, Rarick introduced a bill to withdraw the United States from the United Nations. Earlier, in 1972, Rarick tried to bring John G. Schmitz's bill to withdraw from the U.N. to a vote. Rarick was against foreign aid, having written in 1971: "In my three terms in the House I have never seen a foreign aid bill that deserved passage. I have always felt that we should have Americans helping Americans first, not after they got through helping everyone else."
Losing re-nomination in 1974
In 1974, voters denied Rarick re-nomination, as they had done to Morrison eight years earlier. In order to unseat Rarick the Democratic Party leadership either paid for or strongly encouraged nine candidates to oppose Rarick in the primary race so that Rarick could be prevented from receiving a plurality. Rarick was unseated in the Democratic runoff election by a young Baton Rouge television broadcaster formerly from Arkansas, Jeffrey Dean "Jeff" LaCaze, who objected to Rarick's conservative voting record. LaCaze prevailed, 60,570 votes (51.8 percent) to Rarick's 56,659 (48.2 percent). LaCaze was considered a liberal who enjoyed the support of organized labor and most African Americans in a district then almost one-third black. LaCaze in turn lost to Republican William Henson Moore II (born 1939) of Baton Rouge in a disputed November 1974 general election. In a special election rematch held in January 1975 to resolve the deadlock, LaCaze lost to Moore by nearly eight percentage points.
Rarick resumed the practice of law in St. Francisville after his congressional defeat.
Candidate for AIP presidential nomination, 1976
In 1976, Rarick sought the American Independent Party nomination against Robert J. Morris (1914-1996) who had Richard Viguerie as his running mate and the backing of National Review-publisher William Allen Rusher (1923-2011) and former Governor Lester Maddox of Georgia."Independent Party Looks for Candidate," The Hour (newspaper), August 28, 1976.</ref> Maddox, who had been widely described as the front-runner prior to the convention, won the nomination on the first ballo0, with the support of 177 delegates (52.2 percent. Morris had the backing support of 80 delegates (23.6 percent) and Rarick had 79 (23.3 percent).
In the general election, Maddox received only 170,274 votes (or 0.21%).
Running for Congress again, 1976
Rarick then turned his attention to an attempt to return to Congress. He ran in the suburban New Orleans-based 1st congressional district in 1976 as an Independent. The seat had come open when 36-year incumbent Felix Edward Hébert announced his retirement. Rarick polled only 12,227 votes (9.4 percent). However, he siphoned off enough votes that presumably otherwise would have gone to Republican Bob Livingston to throw the election to Democrat Richard Alvin Tonry (1935-2012).
AIP presidential nominee, 1980
In 1980, Rarick again sought the AIP nomination, competing against Percy L. Greaves, Jr. (1906-1984), an economist from New York, and James Schumacher of Arizona. Both Rarick and Greaves were described as advocating a "strictly defensive non-intervention[ist] foreign policy" while Schumacher spoke in favor of arming Israel "to the teeth" and the "complete destruction of the next country that invades Israel."
In a speech to 150 convention delegates, Rarick outlined a platform which opposed foreign aid and American participation in the United Nations, and citing his congressional votes against the Equal Rights Amendment and funding for abortion. Rarick easily secured the nomination, winning the support of 64 delegates (84.2 percent) on the first ballot; Greaves had the support of 11 delegates (14. percent) and Schumacher had only a single supporter (1.3 percent). Rarick's running mate was Eileen Mary Knowland Shearer (1920-2003), the wife of AIP founder William Kennedy Shearer (1931-2007) and a cousin of the late U.S. Senator William F. Knowland (1908-1974) of California.
On the ballot in only eight states, Rarick finished in seventh place nationally, with 40,906 votes (just 0.05 percent). Rarick's most respectable showings were in Louisiana, where he polled 10,333 votes (0.67 percent and about the same number that Maddox had obtained four years earlier) and in Alabama where he captured 15,010 votes (1.12 percent).
Overall, his totals were so meager as to have been omitted from most presidential election tallies. He opposed the campaign of Republican Ronald Reagan for president that year on the grounds that Reagan, a former governor of California, was too accommodating to the welfare state to address the pressing national needs.
In 1990, Rarick supported then state Representative David Duke's candidacy for U.S. Senator against the Democrat J. Bennett Johnston, Jr.; Duke won 44 percent of the vote and launched a losing gubernatorial race in 1991.
Rarick was awarded the "Medal of Honor" from the National Society for the Daughters of the American Revolution. He received the "Medal of Freedom" Award from the Cardinal Mindszenty Foundation, an organization named for the Hungarian priest, Joseph Cardinal Mindszenty, who was persecuted and exiled because of his opposition to Joseph Stalin and communist horrors during the Cold War. Rarick was given a "life achievement award" by the Council of Conservative Citizens, a group of which he was a charter member and frequently addressed, along with the late conservative columnist, Samuel Todd "Sam" Francis (1947-2005).
Rarick was named "Freemason of the Century" by the Feliciana Lodge 31, where he was active for more than a half century and twice served as its worshipful master. He was instrumental in organizing the lodge's annual "Day the War Stopped," an annual American Civil War re-enactment.
Death and legacy
On December 27, 1945, Rarick married the former Marguerite Pierce (September 10, 1924 – April 13, 2003), the mother of his three children. On January 21, 2004, the widower Rarick married the former Frances Eldred Campbell, a long-time family friend. In addition to his first wife, he was preceded in death by a grandson, Marc Magee Slattery.
Rarick died of cancer at his St. Francisville home at 9:20 p.m., on September 14, 2009. Cherie Brumfield, his daughter and former law partner, told The Baton Rouge Morning Advocate that her father stood up for his lifetime motto: "For God and the Constitution," words inscribed on his tombstone. Brumfield said that Rarick had tried to "wake up America to fight for America." She added that her father, despite his Indiana birth, considered himself "as proud a southerner as anyone born here. He would say, 'I'm a southerner by choice, not chance."
In addition to his second wife, Rarick is survived by one son, John Rarick, II, and wife Kay, and daughters Cherie Rarick Brumfield and husband, Bill, and Laurie Rarick Slattery and husband, John. He had nine grandchildren: John Rarick, III, and wife Tara; Parrish Rarick; Alecia Rarick Tortorich and husband, Louis; Jodie Brumfield Morrow and husband, Jude; William Brian Brumfield; H. Doyle Magee, III; John Slattery, III; Marguerite Slattery, and Patrick Rarick Slattery. He had six great-grandchildren: Brennan Morrow, Catherine Morrow, Christian Rarick, McKenna Rarick, John Challen Rarick, and Kaitlyn Tortorich. He is also survived by four stepchildren: Scott, Don, and Dave Campbell, and Lori Campbell Teufert; and one step-grandson, Derrick Hyde.
Services were held on September 18, 2009, at the First Baptist Church of St. Francisville, of which Rarick was a member. He is interred beside his first wife at Star Hill Cemetery off U.S. Highway 61 and Louisiana Highway 966 near St. Francisville.
Rarick's papers were donated to Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond.
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