Emanuel Celler

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Emanuel Celler
Emanuel Celler NYWTS.jpg
39th Dean of the United States House of Representatives
In office
January 1965 – January 1973
Preceded by Carl Vinson
Succeeded by Wright Patman
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from New York
In office
March 4, 1923 – January 3, 1973
Preceded by Lester D. Volk
Succeeded by Mario Biaggi
Constituency 10th district (1923–45)
15th district (1945–53)
11th district (1953–63)
10th district (1963–73)
Personal details
Born (1888-05-06)May 6, 1888
Brooklyn, New York
Died January 15, 1981(1981-01-15) (aged 92)
Brooklyn, New York
Political party Democratic
Alma mater Columbia College, Columbia University
Columbia University Law School
Occupation Lawyer

Emanuel Celler (May 6, 1888 – January 15, 1981) was a Jewish-American[1], progressive, left-wing politician from New York who was a member of the United States House of Representatives for almost 50 years, from March 1923 to January 1973. A Democrat, he was defeated in the 1972 primary, becoming the most senior Representative ever to lose a primary. He was the longest-serving Representative from New York state, and was a prominent supporter of traditional liberal causes.

Celler is most notable for having helped spearhead the 1965 Hart-Celler Act, which changed US immigration policy from encouraging mostly white immigration to encouraging mostly non-white immigration by removing existing restrictions. The resulting influx of non-white people from the Third World significantly altered the ethnic composition of the USA, leading to the USA transforming from an overwhelmingly white country to a country where most births are now to non-whites, and where non-whites are expected to become the majority. This result has been condemned by opponents of Celler's work as a deliberate or unintentional process of population replacement and even as white genocide, though it is a generally non-violent process.[2] Opponents of Celler even describe the bill as "treason", and he has been called a "foreign alien" though he was a lifelong US citizen.[3] These opponents have been condemned as racists and antisemites for protesting the transformation of the USA from a generally white into a multiracial country.

Early life

Celler was born in Brooklyn, the son of Josephine (née Müller) and Henry H. Celler. All of his grandparents immigrated from Germany; his paternal grandparents and maternal grandmother were Jewish (his maternal grandfather was Catholic). A graduate of Boys High School, Columbia College, Columbia University and Columbia Law School,[4] he was the first Democrat to ever represent his district and is the fifth longest-serving congressman in history (only John Dingell, Jamie Whitten, John Conyers and Carl Vinson served longer) and the longest-serving member of either house of Congress in New York's history. A practicing lawyer before entering politics, he was particularly involved in issues relating to the judiciary and immigration.

Work in the House of Representatives

During his first twenty-two years in Congress, 1923–1945, Celler's Brooklyn and Queens-based district was numbered as New York's 10th congressional district. Redistricting in 1944 put him into the 15th district from 1945 to 1953; from 1953 to 1963 his district was the 11th and for his final decade in the United States Congress, 1963–1973, it was back to its 1922 designation as the 10th. For his final campaign in 1972, the district had been renumbered as the 16th.

Celler made his first important speech on the House floor during consideration of the Johnson Immigration Act of 1924. Three years earlier, Congress had imposed a quota that limited immigration for persons of any nationality to 3 percent of that nationality present in the United States in 1910, with an annual admission limit of 356,000 immigrants. This national origin system was structured to preserve the ethnic and religious identity of the United States by reducing immigration from Eastern and Southern Europe, thereby excluding many Jews, Catholics, Italians, and others. Celler was vehemently opposed to the Johnson Act, which passed the isolationist Congress and was signed into law. Celler had found his cause, and for the next four decades he vigorously spoke out in favor of eliminating the national origin quotas as a basis for immigration restriction.

In July 1939, a strongly worded letter from Celler to U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull helped set in motion an extremely prolonged process of 45 years that finally led in 1984, three years after Celler's death, to full, formal diplomatic relations between the United States and the Holy See.[5][6]

In the 1940s, Celler opposed both the isolationists and the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration by forcefully advocating that the United States relax immigration laws on an emergency basis to rescue those fleeing the Holocaust. In 1943, he called President Franklin D. Roosevelt's immigration policy "cold and cruel" and blasted the "glacier-like attitude" of the State Department.

In 1950, he was the lead House sponsor of legislation to strengthen the Clayton Antitrust Act of 1914; the bill, written with Tennessee Senator Estes Kefauver, became the Celler-Kefauver Act, which empowered the government to prevent vertical mergers and conglomerate mergers which could limit competition.

In the early 1950s, Celler's politics were criticized by Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who suspected him of having socialist or even communist designs. At the 1952 Democratic National Convention, Celler gave an anti-McCarthy speech in response, where he accused McCarthy of having unstated but diabolical motives.[7]

As Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee from 1949 to 1973 (except for a break from when the Republicans controlled the House), Celler was involved in drafting and passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Civil Rights Act of 1968 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In January 1965, Celler proposed in the House of Representatives the Twenty-fifth Amendment, which clarifies an ambiguous provision of the Constitution regarding succession to the presidency.

Most notably, in 1965 he also proposed and steered to passage the Immigration and Nationality Services Act of 1965, or Hart-Celler Act, which eliminated national origins as a consideration for immigration. This was the culminating moment in Celler's 41-year fight to eliminate restrictions on immigration based on national origin, and has profoundly changed the ethnic make-up of the United States. It was part of a larger process of granting civil rights to non-white minorities that Celler supported throughout his career. However, Celler's work has been condemned for the alleged destructive effects that increased ethnic and social diversity has had on society, such as an increase in crime, breakdown of "traditional" family structures, and reduced white birth rates, both in absolute numbers and as a percentage of the total American population.[8]

The US Gun Control Act of 1968 directly evolved from Celler's Bill H.R. 17735.[9][10]

In June 1972, Celler unexpectedly lost the Democratic primary to a somewhat more liberal Democrat, attorney Elizabeth Holtzman, who eked out a victory over the House of Representatives' most senior member based chiefly on his opposition to feminism and the Equal Rights Amendment. At the time, Celler was the most senior congressman to have been ousted in a primary. Even though Celler was on the ballot as the candidate of the Liberal Party, he decided not to campaign, allowing Holtzman to win easily the general election.

Final years

In 1972 he joined the law firm of Weisman, Celler, Spett, Modlin and Wertheimer, in Washington, D.C.[11] In his final eight years, from January 1973 to January 1981, Celler remained busy, speaking in favor of immigration and myriad other topics that occupied his half-century of political work. During the Watergate scandal of 1973–74, he was a frequent guest on television and radio programs, discussing the hearings and the position of Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, which he held for a record number of years. If not for his electoral loss a few months before, Celler, not Peter Rodino of New Jersey, would have been conducting the hearings. Celler was on good terms with Richard Nixon and in the early part of the hearings indicated that he would have taken a less adversarial position than Rodino.

In 1978, shortly after his 90th birthday, he granted an interview in which he reflected on his life and the presidents he had known, from Warren G. Harding to Gerald Ford who, like Presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon, had been Celler's House of Representatives colleague.

Emanuel Celler died in his native Brooklyn at the age of 92.

See also


  1. (retrieved Jul 15, 2017) http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/emanuel-celler
  2. (Feb 11, 2012) http://www.thechristiansolution.com/doc2012/517_KennedyImmigrationAct.html
  3. (Mar 13, 2016) http://nationalvanguard.org/2016/03/mubtakkars-and-the-enemy-within/
  4. CELLER, Emanuel - Biographical Information. Bioguide.congress.gov. Retrieved on 2013-07-23.
  5. Letter to Secretary of State Cordell Hull
  6. Spingola, Deanna (2012). The Ruling Elite. Trafford Publishing.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. quote: "Deliberately and calculatedly, McCarthyism has set before itself the task of undermining the faith of the people in their Government. It has undertaken to sow suspicion everywhere, to set friend against friend and brother against brother. It deals in coercion and in intimidation, tying the hands of citizens and officials with the fear of the smear attack."
  8. (Apr 11, 2014) http://www.vanguardnewsnetwork.com/2014/04/the-celler-rights-summit-celebrating-white-dispossession-and-destruction/
  9. Lyndon B. Johnson: Remarks Upon Signing the Gun Control Act of 1968. Presidency.ucsb.edu (1968-10-22). Retrieved on 2013-07-23.
  10. Moral Controversies in American Politics - Raymond Tatalovich, Byron W. Daynes - Google Books. Books.google.com (1968-06-10). Retrieved on 2013-07-23.
  11. Emanuel Celler Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (2012)


  • You Never Leave Brooklyn, New York, Bell, 1953

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Lester D. Volk
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 10th congressional district

Succeeded by
Andrew L. Somers
Preceded by
Thomas F. Burchill
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 15th congressional district

Succeeded by
John H. Ray
Preceded by
James J. Heffernan
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 11th congressional district

Succeeded by
Eugene J. Keogh
Preceded by
Edna F. Kelly
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 10th congressional district

Succeeded by
Mario Biaggi
Political offices
Preceded by
Earl Michener (1st time), Chauncey Reed (2nd time)
Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee
1949–1953, 1955–1973
Succeeded by
Chauncey Reed (1st time), Peter Rodino (2nd time)
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Carl Vinson
Dean of the House
Succeeded by
Wright Patman

Template:US House Deans