Cabinet paper of 1956

Attorney General Herbert Brownell Jr. sent Vice President Richard Nixon this letter stating the things he wanted to be included in the new Civil Rights Act of 1957, the first legislation on civil rights since Reconstruction.  These items  included the prevention of coercion of voters.  Also, he wanted the United States Attorney General to have the authority to bring an injunction to protect the offended person.  Additionally, he wanted the elimination of the principle that all state and local solutions be exhausted before the federal government could take action. This would grant more power to the United States Attorney General and federal courts.

Brownell also wanted enforcement through criminal proceedings of existing civil rights laws.  The attorney general at that time did not have the authority to enforce these laws. Because Civil Rights was becoming such an important issue at this time, and Brownell wanted additional authority, he asked for the creation of an Assitant Attorney General's office.

He also called for the creation of a bipartisan civil rights commission. This group would consist of six members that were appointed by the president. Brownell emphasis the importance of the right to vote, but he also notes that exsisting laws concerning franchise should be enforced through criminal proceedings. This shows that though the government was working on Civil Rights legislation, the government was more interested in upholding exsisting laws than making new laws ensuring the civil rights of African Americans.

Letter by Attorney General Brownell in 1956.

Letter from AG Brownell to VP Nixon calling for the expansion of civil rights.