Congressional Committee Acts to Provide Protection for Synagogues

The House Judiciary Committee today voted to broaden provisions requested by President Eisenhower to protect synagogues, churches, and schools from terroristic bombing. The Committee considered the White House request as being inadequate.

The Committee decided to write a new provision into the Eisenhower Civil Rights Bill as a substitute. The substitute was described by committee members as one that would provide the FBI with wider powers to fight the bombers of synagogues.

The new measure would make it a Federal crime to cross a state line to avoid prosecution for either bombing or burning any type of property. The FBI could arrest fugitives who fled a state after bombing or setting fire to any type of building or vehicle, specifically including private homes, synagogues, churches, community centers, and religious and educational institutions, either public or private.

The Administration proposal was broadened also in another way although the Administration had not requested it. The committee decided to make it a Federal offense to flee a state to avoid giving testimony about a bombing or fire.

Today’s amendment was sponsored by Rep. J. Carlton Loser, Tennessee Democrat. It was approved by an overwhelming voice vote at a closed session of the committee and was incorporated into the Civil Rights Bill. Both Southerners and Northerners voted to adopt the stronger anti-bombing provisions.

Jewish organizations had previously testified before Congress to urge the stronger measures. Rep. Loser said the revised provision would prove “very effective in obtaining services of the FBI in any type of bombing case” involving flight across a state line. Violators of the proposed law could be tried in Federal court and sentenced up to five years and fined as much as $5, 000.

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