Bob Barr, a former employee of the Central Intelligence Agency and a former United States Attorney, represented Georgia in the United States House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003 as a Republican. He was involved in some of the most significant US political issues of the 1990s, and his archival records contain extensive documentation of his involvement with these issues.
Below are a selection of links and descriptions of archival materials from the Bob Barr papers.
Bill Clinton impeachment
Boxes 308-327, 508, 637, 670-673
Barr was one of the first members of the US Congress to call for an impeachment inquiry into President Bill Clinton, and served as one of the floor managers in the House in Clinton’s eventual 1999 impeachment trial. Barr began calling for an impeachment inquiry on the grounds of illegal campaign fundraising, and continued to demand impeachment as subsequent investigations revealed the extent of Clinton’s personal sexual misconduct. These records document Barr’s involvement in the impeachment process. They include correspondence between Barr and other legislators (including Judiciary Committee chair Henry Hyde), transcripts of witness testimonies and other legal records, and newspaper clippings. Also included is a large amount of background research material on the impeachment of other US government officials, including President Andrew Jackson, President Richard Nixon, Judge Alcee Hastings, and Judge Walter Nixon.
Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)
Boxes 302-304, 540-541
Barr authored the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and introduced it in the House in May 1996. The measure defined marriage for federal purposes as the union of one man and one woman, and was designed to curtail nascent demands for equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. The bill passed in the House and Senate, and President Bill Clinton signed it into law in September 1996. Clinton likely signed the law to avoid controversy because it was a presidential election year, and it had passed Congress with veto-proof majorities, making a veto pointless. His action dismayed and angered LGBT rights advocates nonetheless. The law was eventually ruled unconstitutional in the 2013 United States v. Windsor Supreme Court case. Barr’s records related to the law include correspondence, clippings, and other materials. Of note is correspondence between Barr and Jay Sekulow, who later served on President Donald Trump’s legal team, regarding a same-sex marriage law passed in Canada and whether or not the US would be compelled to legally recognize marriages performed in that country.
Boxes 229-230, 440-441, 508, 566, 634-637
In the mid-1990s, a large influx of immigration from Central and South America led members of Congress to adopt vocal positions on the issue. Some Republicans, such as Barr, especially opposed President Bill Clinton’s “Citizenship USA” initiative, which sought to expedite naturalizations for immigrants, arguing that Clinton was trying to increase the rolls of Democratic voters by granting citizenship without proper process. With Clinton seeking re-election to the presidency in 1996, he was under intense public pressure to address immigration issues. The 1995 Immigration in the National Interest Act would have enacted sweeping changes in immigration policy, but stagnated in the House of Representatives due to concerns that Congress should address legal and illegal immigration separately. The 1996 Illegal Immigration and Immigrant Responsibility Act, which Clinton signed into law, made it much easier for the U.S government to deport immigrants who lacked legal authorization to be in the United States. Barr played a significant role in these legislative debates. His records related to the topic include draft legislation, correspondence, newspaper clippings, and other materials.
Gun control and the National Rifle Association
Boxes 41-49, 305-307, 436, 542, 607, 626-631
Barr was a strong ally of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and a fierce opponent of gun control legislation in Congress. His archival records contain a large amount of material related to his association with the group and his opposition to gun control measures. There is also a significant amount of material related to gun violence among youths, which received major national attention especially after the April 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado. Records include legislative materials, correspondence, newspaper clippings, and other materials.
The War on Drugs
Boxes 385, 424, 540, 552, 576, 618, 643, 582, 617-620
Barr was a strong supporter of the “War on Drugs,” begun under President Richard Nixon in the 1970s and accelerated under President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. In 1994, President Bill Clinton signed into law an omnibus crime bill that significantly increased criminal penalties for a large number of crimes, including drug offenses. Upon entering Congress in 1995, Barr strongly supported increased punishments for drug offenders. Records on this topic include legislative materials, correspondence, newspaper clippings, and other materials. Drugs under consideration include marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamines, and Rohypnol.