The Man Who Stood Up to Bobby Kennedy

Alone on the Floor of the House

Walter tried to get the bill passed by putting it on the "consent calendar," by which the House would adopt it automatically if no member objected. Lindsay was the only congressman to object. Later, Walter brought the bill up again under suspension of the rules, which required only that two-thirds of the members actually present on the floor at the time vote yes. But by then, Lindsay had rounded up allies.

The Industrial Security Bill passed the House 247-132—six votes short of a two-thirds majority. It was the first time, John Lindsay told me with satisfaction, that the Un-American Activities Committee had ever been defeated in a floor fight.

In his Yale University thesis on the life of Oliver Cromwell, Lindsay quoted a Puritan preacher telling Parliament about "two fundamental demands common to all Puritan sects: liberty of conscience, and reform—of the universities, the countries, the cities."

John Lindsay went from Congress to reform this city.

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