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Jack Brooks
Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee

In office
January 3, 1989 – January 3, 1995
Speaker Jim Wright
Tom Foley
Preceded by Peter W. Rodino
Succeeded by Henry Hyde
Chairman of the House Government Operations Committee

In office
January 3, 1975 – January 3, 1989
Speaker Carl Albert
Tip O'Neill
Jim Wright
Preceded by Chester E. Holifield
Succeeded by John Conyers
as Chair of the House Oversight Committee
Member of the United States House of Representatives
In office
January 3, 1967 – January 3, 1995
Preceded by Clark W. Thompson
Succeeded by Steve Stockman
Member of the United States House of Representatives
In office
January 3, 1953 – January 3, 1967
Preceded by Jesse M. Combs
Succeeded by John Dowdy
Member of the
Texas House of Representatives
for District 16-1

In office
Preceded by William L. Smith
Succeeded by William C. Ross, Sr.
Personal details
Born Jack Bascom Brooks
(1922-12-18)December 18, 1922
Crowley, Louisiana, U.S.
Died December 4, 2012(2012-12-04) (aged 89)
Beaumont, Texas, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Charlotte Collins Brooks (married 1960-2012, his death)
Children Jeb Brooks

Kate Brooks Carroll
Kimberly Brooks

Occupation Lawyer
Military service
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
Rank US-O6 insignia.svg Colonel
Battles/wars World War II

Jack Bascom Brooks (December 18, 1922 – December 4, 2012) was a Democratic lawmaker from Beaumont, Texas, who served in the United States House of Representatives for forty-two years. Defeated in 1994, Brooks was the most senior representative ever to have lost a general election for the U.S. House.

Early life[edit | edit source]

Brooks was born in Crowley in Acadia Parish in southwestern Louisiana.[1][2] His family moved to Beaumont, Texas, when he was five years old.[1][2] He attended public schools and enrolled in Lamar Junior College in 1939 after receiving a scholarship.[2][3] He majored in journalism and transferred to the University of Texas at Austin , from which he earned a Bachelor of Arts in 1943.[1][2] He was a member[citation needed] of the Texas Cowboys service organization. In 1949, while a member of the Texas Legislature, he earned a degree from the University of Texas Law School.[1][2]

Career[edit | edit source]

Military[edit | edit source]

Brooks enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II. He served for about two years on the Pacific islands of Guadalcanal, Guam, Okinawa, and in North China.[2][3] By the time he retired from the Marine Corps Reserves in 1972 he had reached the rank of colonel.[2] On his office desk, Brooks kept a silver paperweight with the inscription "Fighting Marine".[4]

Texas Legislature[edit | edit source]

A lifelong Democrat, Brooks was elected in 1946 to represent Jefferson County in the Texas House of Representatives6. After his election he sponsored a bill that would make Lamar Junior College a four-year institution. The bill initially failed, but passed the following year. He won re-election to the state legislature in 1948 without opposition.[2]

U.S. Congress[edit | edit source]

Brooks during his first term in Congress

In 1952, Brooks was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives for Texas's 2nd congressional district. In 1966, the 2nd was redistricted as the 9th district. Brooks was chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Government Operations from 1975 through 1988, and of the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary from 1989 until 1995.[2] He also served on the Select Committee on Congressional Operations, the Joint Committee on Congressional Operations, and the Subcommittee on Legislation and National Security.[3] In 1979, he became the senior member of the Texas congressional delegation]], a position which he maintained for fifteen years.[2][3]

Brooks was conservative on some issues like the death penalty and gun control, but more liberal on issues like domestic spending, labor, and civil rights. In 1956, he refused to sign the Southern Manifesto[5] that opposed racial integration in public places. Brooks was one of the few Southern congressmen to support civil rights legislation; as a ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, he helped to write the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.[2]

One of Brooks' signature bills required competitive bidding for federal computing contracts. The Brooks Act of 1965 is often cited as being a catalyst for technological advances.[6] In 1967, Brooks opposed the move of the US Patent Office to attempt to introduce guidelines for software patentability.[citation needed]

As the leader of the Government Operations Committee, Brooks oversaw legislation affecting budget and accounting matters, and the establishment of departments and agencies. He also helped pass the Inspector General Act of 1978, the General Accounting Office Act of 1980, the Paper Reduction Act of 1980, and the Single Audit Act of 1984.

In 1988, Brooks' influence was made prominent by his unusual involvement in trade policy. He introduced a spending bill amendment that banned Japanese companies from U.S. public works projects for one year. He said that he was motivated by continuing signs that the Japanese government "intended to blatantly discriminate against U.S. firms in awarding public works contracts." House Majority Leader Tom Foley of Washington, who opposed the amendment, said Brooks "is one of the most powerful and effective chairmen in Congress."[4]

While chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Brooks sponsored the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Omnibus Crime Control Act of 1991, and the Civil Rights Act of 1991.[2]

Brooks' sponsorship of the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which eventually was incorporated with an amendment to ban semi-automatic firearms, probably contributed to his electoral defeat by Republican Steve Stockman, despite Brooks' life membership in the National Rifle Association[2] and his personal opposition to the ban.

A protégé of former Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn, Brooks described himself: "I'm just like old man Rayburn. Just a Democrat. No prefix or suffix."[1][7]

Links to U.S. presidents[edit | edit source]

Kennedy and Johnson[edit | edit source]

Congressman Brooks is visible at right, behind Mrs. Kennedy.

On November 22, 1963, Brooks was in the motorcade carrying U.S. President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jackie Kennedy through downtown Dallas, Texas, when Kennedy was assassinated.[1][8] Brooks was a contemporary of Lyndon B. Johnson, who was a U.S. Senator before becoming Vice-President to Kennedy.[9] He was present on Air Force One at Dallas Love Field when Johnson was sworn in as President after Kennedy's death.[1][8][10]

Richard M. Nixon[edit | edit source]

He was a leader in the investigation that uncovered millions of dollars in public funds expended at the vacation homes of President Richard Nixon. Following the Watergate scandal in 1974, Brooks drafted the articles of impeachment later adopted by the House Judiciary Committee. For this reason, Nixon called Brooks his "executioner."[6]

Personal life and death[edit | edit source]

In 1960, Brooks married Charlotte Collins. They had three children: Jeb, Kate, and Kimberly.[1][8]

Brooks died at Baptist Hospital in Beaumont on December 4, 2012 - two weeks before his 90th birthday. He died surrounded by family after a sudden illness. At the time of his death, Brooks was survived by his wife, children, and two grandchildren.[1][8]

Legacies and tributes[edit | edit source]

  • In 1978, a U.S. court house and post office in Beaumont, Texas, were renamed the Jack Brooks Federal Building.[11]
  • A Galveston County park in Hitchcock is named Jack Brooks Park.
  • In 1989, a statue of Brooks was placed in the quadrangle at Lamar University in Beaumont.
  • In 2001, NASA presented its Distinguished Service Medal to Brooks at a ceremony in the John Gray Center of Lamar University. NASA Admin. Daniel Goldin cited Brooks’ long-standing support of the U.S. space program and his role in "strengthening the agency during its formative years." Goldin said "Congressman Brooks took it upon himself to personally deliver support to one of the agency’s key programs: the design, development, and on-orbit assembly of the International Space Station."[3]
  • In 2002, Brooks was named Post Newsweek Tech Media’s "Civilian executive of the last twenty years" by Government Computer News.[3]
  • In 2008, Brooks donated his archives to the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History of the University of Texas at Austin.[12]
  • In 2010, the Southeast Texas Regional Airport was renamed Jack Brooks Regional Airport in Brooks' honor.[11]
  • In the 2016 Oscar nominated movie Jackie, he was portrayed by actor David Friszman.

See also[edit | edit source]

  • Firearms legislation in the U.S.

References & sources[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Graczyk, Michael (December 5, 2012). "Longtime Texas US Rep. Jack Brooks dead at 89". Associated Press (AP). http://bigstory.ap.org/article/longtime-se-texas-us-rep-jack-brooks-dead-89. Retrieved November 16, 2013. 
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 "Jack Brooks Biography". Austin: University of Texas. 2013. http://www.cah.utexas.edu/collections/congress_politics_brooks_bio.php. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 "Jack Brooks (biography)". Beaumont Texas: Lamar University. 2005. http://dept.lamar.edu/polisci/Brooks.pdf. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Johnson, Julie (January 18, 1988). "Washington Talk: Congress; A 'Fighting Marine' Battles Japan on Trade". The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/1988/01/18/us/washington-talk-congress-a-fighting-marine-battles-japan-on-trade.html. 
  5. Badger, Tony (June 1999). "Southerners Who Refused to Sign the Southern Manifesto". Cambridge University Press. pp. 517–534. Digital object identifier:10.1017/S0018246X98008346. JSTOR 3020998. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Cahn, Emily (December 5, 2012). "Jack Brooks of Texas Dies at 89". CQ Roll Call. http://www.rollcall.com/news/jack_brooks_of_texas_dies_at_89-219687-1.html. 
  7. "Jack Brooks Obituary". Beaumont, Texas. December 8, 2012. http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/beaumontenterprise/obituary.aspx?n=jack-brooks&pid=161501183. Retrieved November 17, 2013. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Martin, Douglas (December 5, 2012). "Jack Brooks, Former Texas Congressman, Dies at 89". The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/06/us/politics/jack-brooks-former-texas-congressman-dies-at-89.html. Retrieved November 16, 2013. 
  9. Dunham, Richard (December 5, 2012). "Remembering Jack Brooks, LBJ protégé, Nixon 'executioner,' fierce partisan, Texas patriot". Houston Chronicle. http://blog.chron.com/txpotomac/2012/12/remembering-jack-brooks-lbj-protege-nixon-executioner-fierce-partisan-texas-patriot/. Retrieved November 18, 2013. 
  10. "A Tribute to Jack Brooks". Austin, Texas: LBJ Presidential Library. December 6, 2012. http://www.lbjlibrary.org/press/lbj-in-the-news/a-tribute-to-jack-brooks. Retrieved November 18, 2013. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 Chang, Julie (December 5, 2012). "Jack Brooks legacy in SETX". Beaumont Enterprise. http://www.beaumontenterprise.com/news/article/Jack-Brooks-legacy-in-SETX-4093410.php. Retrieved November 17, 2013. 
  12. "Center for American History Announces Acquisition of Congressman Jack Brooks Collection". Austin: University of Texas. March 24, 2008. http://www.cah.utexas.edu/news/press_release.php?press=press_brooks2. 

External links[edit | edit source]

Unrecognised parameter
Preceded by
William L. Smith
Member of the Texas House of Representatives
from District 16-1 (Beaumont)

Succeeded by
William C. Ross, Sr.
Political offices
Preceded by
Chester E. Holifield
Chairman of the House Government Operations Committee
Succeeded by
John Conyers
Preceded by
Peter W. Rodino
New Jersey
Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee
Succeeded by
Henry Hyde
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Jesse M. Combs
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
John Dowdy
Preceded by
Clark W. Thompson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 9th congressional district

Succeeded by
Steve Stockman

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