by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Democratic 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden once voted to restore the U.S. citizenship of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
The former vice president, 76, was a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee that unanimously approved a bill in 1977. The measure was sent to the full Senate, where it was approved without dissent and later signed into law by President Jimmy Carter.
A year earlier, Biden had been among senators who voted to restore citizenship to Robert E. Lee, the Confederate general.
The initiatives, which generated relatively little controversy at the time, highlights the cultural and political shifts that have taken place during Biden’s nearly five-decade political career. In recent years, statues and other commemorations of Confederate leaders have drawn protests and calls for their removal. …
… The Davis citizenship bill was introduced in 1977 by Sen. Mark Hatfield, a Republican from Oregon. Hatfield became interested in the subject after reading a biography on Davis, who served as president of the Confederate States during the Civil War from 1861 to 1865.
The bill was initially considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee, which Biden had joined earlier that year. The bill was approved by the panel on April 22, 1977, and went on to pass the full Senate on April 27, 1977. The law restored “the full rights of citizenship to Jefferson Davis” and stated that Davis “had served the United States long and honorably as a soldier” before joining the Confederacy and “should no longer be singled out for punishment … The Congress officially completes the long process of reconciliation that has reunited our people following the tragic conflict between the States,” said the resolution.