WASHINGTON (Aug. 18)
The chairman and ranking minority member of the House Judiciary Committee today joined in introducing bi-partisan legislation to bring about intervention by the F.B.I. in such cases as the recent bombings of synagogues in the South. The chairman is Rep. Emanuel Celler, New York Democrat, while the ranking minority member is Rep. Kenneth B. Keating, New York Republican.
In a statement explaining the bill, Rep. Celler and Rep. Keating emphasized the need for coordinating Federal-State jurisdiction to deal with the bombings. Their new legislation would make it a Federal crime to ship dynamite across state lines “for such evil purposes.”
They described it is essential that the F.B.I. be given “not primary but coordinate responsibility” for investigation of religious and racial bombings. “It is the aim of our bill to confer that authority on the Department of Justice in order to enable the F.B.I. to intervene promptly in the event of future dynamitings,” they stated.
This is done, they said, “by creating a rebuttable presumption that dynamite used to bomb schools, churches, and similar public buildings was transported in interstate commerce. This is the kind of coordinate responsibility that the F.B.I. has in many types of criminal cases.”
The proposed legislation would not divest state and local authorities of primary responsibility and duty. The bill would merely give to the Federal authorities concurrent jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute those cases in which interstate facilities have been used to transport explosives.” The sponsors said they were gratified “that many leading southerners, including six members of the Senate and several in the House, have already called for action by the F.B.I. along these lines.”