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Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, I am a lawyer. I have practiced law for a great many years. I have worked on commissions. In fact, the reason you have been so gracious as to let me appear today is that I am in Washington today to sit on a commission and I could not be here on Wednesday.
Commissions are very well in their way, but as a lawyer and as one who believes in our traditional constitutional principle of government in this country, I wonder if we are really making progress when we create commission after commission to handle what should be a fundamental part of the constitutional statute—another part of the law of the land.
You will know, being Members of the House of Representatives, whether we have gone a little wild in this matter of commissions. Í think we have. Again, in behalf of the Republican women of the State of New York who look to the representatives of both parties who have this pledge in common to carry out, I ask that you be good enough to report out House Joint Resolution 62.
Thank you very much. [Applause.] Mr. REED. Now that all of those who have asked to speak on behalf of the Wadsworth bill and the other bills similar thereto have spoken. I had previously accepted an invitation from Mrs. Miller who wished to say a few words for the equal-rights bill at the conclusion and if there is any person that wishes to talk for, we will say, 5 minutes on each side, we will be glad to hear from them at this time. That will close the hearings.
Mrs. MILLER. I did not understand how much time we had.
Mr. REED. I think it would be well if we were limited to 5 minutes on each side.
Miss POLLITZER. Mr. Chairman, may I ask a question? I understood you to say that there could be 30 minutes for rebuttal, therefore I asked Mrs. Matthews, of the National Association of Women Lawyers, if she would come back. Are you willing?
Mr. CHADWICK. By all means. Mr. Reed. Suppose we say 15 minutes on a side; would that be time enough?
Mrs. MILLER. Yes; thank you. Now I would like to say to Miss Donlon that I, too,'had something to do with putting the plank in the Democratic platform as she had in the Republican. It was given very careful consideration first by a subcommittee that reported it 3 to 2; then to a full committee which voted 2 to 1 in favor of it. I would also like—but I believe he has gone—to introduce to Mr. Harrison a woman who has five children, who has brought them up alone. I refer to Mrs. Mary Murray who testified for the equal-rights
I want to put into the record a letter written by His Eminence Dennis Cardinal Dougherty, prelate of the Catholic Church, in behalf of the equal-rights amendment.
amendment today into
(The statement referred to is as follows:)
STATEMENT BY DENNIS CARDINAL DOUGHERTY ON THE EQUAL-RIGHTS AMENDMENT
(In letter to Mrs. Cecil Norton Broy, political chairman of National Woman's
Party, and Dr. Mary Sinclair Crawford, member national advisory council,
Philadelphia, Pa., September 22, 1945.
MY DEAR LADIES : Apropos of the equal-rights amendment to the Constitution,
DENNIS CARDINAL DOUGHERTY,
Archbishop of Philadelphia. Mrs. MILLER. The question has been brought up that the amendment is not in best constitutional form as to wording. Well, I would like to ask the people who made that statement if they do not think that Senators O Mahoney, Kilgore, Hatch, and McGrath know something about constitutional law, as do Senator Austin, our great representative in the United Nations, Senators Ferguson, Vandenberg, and Wiley, all of whom support the amendment, as well as a number of others, whose names are on this list.
Here is a telegram from Susan Pringle Frost, chairman, South Carolina branch, National Woman's Party. She says:
Regret my inability to be present at hearing. Tell the House Judiciary of the many clubs urging action. We trust a favorable vote so that there can be a speedy march onward to passage of equal-rights amendment.
Now I am going to ask Mrs. Burnita Shelton Matthews to speak. I know she can answer all the legal quirks that the opposition has brought up.
STATEMENT OF MRS. BURNITA SHELTON MATTHEWS
Mrs. MATTHEWS. I would like to call to your attention some of the things that have happened in the past when measures of outstanding importance to women in the field of equal rights were about to reach achievement. In the case of suffrage, the opponents always wanted a study made, or to have a commission appointed to study something. They suggested we study the laws of Australia, of New Zealand, to see what effect they had had; to go out to Colorado and see whether or not the divorce rate had increased or decreased on account of suffrage, or just what the situation was.
Following suffrage, the grant of suffrage by Federal amendment, the Nation Woman's Party drafted a number of bills, about 15 for specific points in the one State of New York, for example. They were to allow the mother to inherit with the father and to allow the mother to have some part in the guardianship of the children, and such things as that, specific bills.
At the time the Woman's Party had these bills introduced many of the organizations here today, the League of Women Voters, the Women's Trade Union League, for example, appeared before the
committee and said that they wanted a commission appointed to study the position of women, and the chairman told them that they ought to take a position on these specific bills—but still they wanted a commission appointed.
Subsequently we tried to get a bill through Congress which would give equal nationality rights to women, and this bill came up in the year 1934. Women were trying to have American mothers allowed to transmit nationality to their children born abroad in the same way that the American fathers then had.
At that time, various agencies and some of the same organization appeared in opposition to part of the bill, and there was a request that a commission be appointed to study. We managed to get the bill passed in 1934, the equal nationality bill, but the commission was appointed, too, and they reported several years after we had managed to get the bill passed.
When we were making considerable headway on the equal-rights amendment some years ago, the opposition came forward with what was then called "the women's charter.” This women's charter was also an effort to have studies made and that died.
Now, at the present time, there is in the preamble to the Charter of the United Nations a provision to the effect that they affirm the equal rights of men and women, of nations great and small.
At the time that came up for consideration the opposition here to the equal-rights amendment appeared there, too, and they wanted all these provisions put in about the social reasons for having a difference in the laws on account of women's special function, that there should be special provisions. But that was defeated and the United Nations Charter, the preamble, is just in the same line as the equal-rights amendment.
They have had several reports from the Commission on the Status of Women, and incidentally they have a considerable staff, which is making the studies contemplated by H. R. 2007.
The subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee, when Senator Austin was a member, put in the provision in the equal-rights amendment providing for the 3-year period after date of ratification, so that each State could have its own opportunities to study those laws. This provision declares: This amendment shall take effect 3 years after the date of ratification.
There is considerable diversity in the laws of the various States, and there are agencies in each State which have already made a study of their own laws. For instance, the National Woman's Party and the General Federation of Women's Clubs several years ago made a study of the laws relating to women, and so that material has been gathered'; various other studies have been made. Each State could have its own study of the individual laws that are applicable there. That would be much more helpful than to have one here, as provided for in H. R. 2007.
I would call this so-called women's status bill the women's unequal status bill. We all know that in the theory of the common law the husband was the superior, the wife the inferior, and that the inferior could have no such rights in the superior as the superior had in the inferior. Many of the discriminations of the common law which would
be preserved under H. R. 2007 are the same objectionable things which Blackstone was talking about.
There is one thing I would like to say about the speaker who appeared for the A. F. of L., Miss Borchardt. She has appeared for a good many years representing the American Federation of Labor. Miss Borchardt is a teacher. She is not in any trade, and for years to my knowledge has not been in any trade that is affected by any of this so-called labor legislation. She is a teacher, and I wish to point out that the National Education Association, after a study of 10 years, is among the educational organizations which have gone on record in favor of the equal-rights amendment.
A very small proportion of working women is represented in the American Federation of Labor. Before you can get in the American Federation of Labor at all, you have to be an apprentice or something similar to that. I had occasion not long ago to try to get a young serviceman in as an apprentice and I was told that in the particular trade he wanted to get in here in the city, he would have to be the son of a man in one of those trades or a son-in-law.
The Women's Trade Union League that appeared here today is one of the organizations that supported the law in New York which ousted women from printing trades because it did not permit them to work at night. The women who were in the unions which were a branch of the A. F. of L. were opposed to the legislation, but the A. F. of L., despite their protest, went in and helped to get that very legislation passed. So it is not the case that the A. F. of L. helps the woman's point of view in the labor union; at least, certainly not in those instances that I have referred to.
I would also like to call your attention to the fact that, Samuel Gompers, who was a well-known labor leader in his time was not only for women's suffrage but was opposed to any discrimination against women in the field of labor.
The CIO representative who appeared here spoke of the New York minimum wage law for women only which was held invalid by the United States Supreme Court. I know about that because I' filed a brief for a good many of the women's organizations, and some of the press said that the court followed the language of the reasoning in the brief. I would not say that they did, but some of the papers said that. Now, in that case I would like to call your attention to the fact that the Attorney General of Ohio came down here and filed a brief as a friend of the court and what do you think he said? He said that a minimum wage law was needed to keep women from taking jobs away from men. That was one of the reasons that he gave.
A previous speaker for the opposition referred to the Communists as likely to be in favor of this amendment. I would like to point out that the Communist officials through the Daily Worker have attacked the equal rights amendment as well as the people who support it.
Mr. CHADWICK. May I interrupt! That matter was called to our attention, I think, by Mrs. Miller yesterday.
Mrs. MILLER. Í submitted a copy of the paper in which I was attacked.
Mr. CHADWICK. It is in our record.
Mr. REED. May I say for the record that you have 2 minutes remaining?
Mrs. MATTHEWS. One thing was said here about the CIO, or by the CIO representative, that the equal rights amendment would cause confusion in the laws on property. In Mississippi, where I was born, they have a constitutional provision that goes back as far as 1890 and says, “the legislature shall never create by law any distinction between the property rights of men and women or their capacity to contract in reference thereto.” It has never caused any confusion that I ever heard of. Dower and courtesy has been equalized in many States.
With regard to rape, which someone here has referred to, some of the States now have laws that say that any person who has relations with a person under a certain age is to be considered guilty of that offense.
Miss Frieda Miller, who is head of the Women's Bureau, spoke of differences, and one difference she would preserve was giving minor children to the mother. Of course, the better plan would be to have a law which permitted the court to award the child to either because those States that say to give it to the mother when young, go further and say that they are to give it to the father later for education or when a trade comes along.
There are many discriminations against women that I might mention if time permitted. Thank you.
Mrs. MILLER. I would like to put a clipping into the record from the Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph; a 30-year-old mother of 10 children cannot get the father to support them. He left for California and likes to be alone very much. I just thought I would like to hand that to the people who are so upset about support.
(The clipping is as follows:)
10 REASONS TO GET A JOB-MOTHER WANTS TO SUPPORT CHILDREN LEFT BY MATE
Mrs. Dorothy McBee has 10 reasons for wanting a job and a home--the 10 children she gave birth to during 13 years of marriage to a man who now is "living like a single man."
Mrs. McBee, who was acquitted of charges of abandonment and willful neglect of her children 2 weeks ago, is working with social agencies to reestablish a home for them.
But before she can do that, she must find a job to support them. She will be receiving little or no financial assistance from her husband, Orval, who writes her from California that he is “not going to do anything for you."
Police have been seeking him to face a charge of willful separation, neglect, and abandonment of minor children.
While the 10 McBee children now are under Juvenile court care, they will be returned to Mrs. McBee as soon as she can provide a new home for them.
She has made eight job applications but has been unsuccessful in finding work. She is seeking a job as a waitress or any other type of work that requires no experience.
HIS LETTERS She said:
"I worked as a waitress for 3 years once, so I would like to do that again. But I'd do anything to get my children back. I'd like to get a job before Easter. They'd like an Easter basket and some new clothes.
Mrs. McBee, 30, will seek a divorce from Orval "as soon as I get enough money."
His letters have alternated between pleas for her to "say the word for me to come back” to his plans for "getting a Mexican divorce and marry someone else in August."
One letter said:
"I have a good job now and am not going to stay in one place because I can get a job anywhere. It is a pleasure to work and spend your money as you want to. The woman I plan to marry is tops."