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Rep. Beck to defend African American rights: 1934 | by Washington Area Spark
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Rep. Beck to defend African American rights: 1934

James M. Beck was an eminent constitutional lawyer, Solicitor General from 1921 to 1925 and a Republican member of the House of Representatives from 1927 to 1934 from Philadelphia, Pa.


Beck was a conservative who argued that the U.S. Constitution didn't allow the Senate the ability to exclude a member chosen through an election.


He was a proponent of African American rights and during the controversy over Jim Crow in the House of Representatives restaurants in 1934, he said he was prepared to take to the House floor to defend [lone African American Representative Oscar] DePriest and “the rights of colored people.”


He was active in the movement to repeal prohibition, which he said had no place in the constitution.


Beck resigned his seat in the House of Representatives because of strong objections to President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. In a statement released at the time of his resignation, he stated that Congress had become "merely a rubber stamp for the Executive."


He joined the lawsuit against the New Deal-created Tennessee Valley Authority and argued the case in the Supreme Court in December 1935, declaring the organization unconstitutional and Socialistic. In the final weeks before his death, he served as counsel in the case of an oil stock dealer accused of violating the Securities Act of 1933.


For a detailed blog post on the fight against Jim Crow in the U.S Capitol restaurants, see


For related images, see


The photographer is unknown. The image is a Harris and Ewing photograph courtesy of the Library of Congress. Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-hec-42405 (digital file from original).

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Taken circa 1925