Civil rights legislation and the Senate Judiciary Committee, 1957 through 1968: a study in representation

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


This study focuses on the representative nature of the Senate Judiciary Committee in relation to the Senate as a whole. Three definitions of representation (descriptive, symbolic and instrumental) were used in order to assess the degree to which the Senate Judiciary Committee represented the Senate in the area of civil rights from 1957 through 1968.

Results show that the Committee was not representative in the descriptive (regional) sense, but it was representative of the Senate in terms of its over-all descriptive (orientations) nature. In terms of symbolic representation, the study whows that the Senate Judiciary Committee has been labeled by the Senate as being "resistant" in the area of civil rights. This was interpreted as being a negative classification of symbolic representation. In the instrumental sense the Committee was not found to represent the Senate.

The reasons for this overall lack of representation were attributed to two factors: (1) the lack of any institutionalized form of elections as sanctions for the lack of representation; and (2) the degree of social pluralism that is reflected in the membership of the Committee as a result of the type of issue at hand.



United States