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Tag: Jr.

“Not guilty by reason of….”

In 2011, a lone gunman opened fire at a political event in Tucson, Arizona, killing six and severely wounding Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. In the aftermath of the tragedy, a federal judge ruled that the suspect charged in the Tucson shooting “was not mentally competent to stand trial.”

The attack and the later legal ruling were not an unprecedented event in American history. Less than three decades earlier on June 21, 1982, a federal court had found President Ronald Reagan’s would-be assassin not guilty by reason of insanity.

President Reagan was wounded when a bullet ricocheted off the Presidential limousine, puncturing his lung and lodging itself within an inch of his heart.

Secret Service agents rushed the President to George Washington University Hospital, where doctors performed successful surgery to remove the bullet. He fully recovered and was able to return to the Oval Office less than a month later, on April 25.

So what happened to John Hinckley, Jr.?

On June 21, 1982, a jury found Hinckley not guilty by reason of insanity. Hinckley had a history of mental illness and had exhibited increasingly erratic behavior in the months leading up to the shooting.

The public response to Hinckley’s acquittal was overwhelmingly negative. As a result, Congress passed the Insanity Defense Reform Act of 1984, which made attaining a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity considerably … [ Read all ]

Sex…and the Civil Rights Bill

Forty-seven years ago this past Saturday, Martin Luther King, Jr., touched a nation with his inspiring words. Just six months later in February of 1964, one small but powerful word was added to the House version of the divisive Civil Rights Act.

Representative Howard Smith of Virginia sponsored an amendment to the bill—he added the word “sex” to the list of categories such as race and religion that the employers couldn’t consider when hiring someone. He thought the addition was so ludicrous it would kill the bill on the floor.

Smith’s track record on civil rights was clear: he protested Brown v. Board of Education, and in 1957 when another civil rights bill (this one on voting) had come before his rules committee, he had said, “The Southern people have never accepted the colored race as a race of people who had equal intelligence . . . as the white people of the South.”

But in 1964—whatever his intent for including the word, whether to torpedo a bill he opposed or even to try to gain some benefit from a bill he knew would pass—the word “sex” stuck around in this civil rights bill.

The bill cleared the House and Senate and later, when a conference committee suggested removing the word, committee members Representative Martha Griffiths and Senator Margaret Chase Smith insisted it remain.

With or without “sex,” the bill was hugely contested. One out … [ Read all ]

Facial Hair Friday: In honor of MLK

March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, August 28, 1963. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., at center.
March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, August 28, 1963. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., at center. (542015 / 306-SSM-4C(51)15)

This Saturday marks the anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington and Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I have a dream” speech.

I was looking through ARC at the pictures of how many people participated, when I noticed something that had never registered before: Martin Luther King Jr. has a mustache.

But when you look at the picture above, you realize why I didn’t notice earlier. He is completely calm and collected, even as he is about to speak to thousands and thousands of people (see image below).  He is focused, in the moment, intense. He is making history. How could anyone watching in person or on film notice minor details then?