Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 9th district
January 3, 1973 – May 28, 2001
Preceded by Louise Day Hicks
Succeeded by Stephen Lynch
Born John Joseph Moakley
April 27, 1927
Died May 28, 2001 (aged 74)
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Evelyn Duffy Moakley
Religion Roman Catholic
John Joseph "Joe" Moakley (April 27, 1927 – May 28, 2001) was a Democratic congressman from the Ninth District of Massachusetts. Moakley won the seat from incumbent Louise Day Hicks in a 1972 rematch; the seat had been held two years earlier by the retiring Speaker of the House John William McCormack. Moakley was the last chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Rules before Republicans took control of the chamber in 1995.
Moakley was born in South Boston, Massachusetts, April 27, 1927 and grew up in that neighborhood's Old Harbor public housing project. Lying about his age, he enlisted in the United States Navy during World War II and was involved in the War in the Pacific from 1943 to 1946. After returning home, Moakley attended the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida from 1950 to 1951, and he received his LL.B. at Suffolk University Law School in Boston in 1956.
Moakley was a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 1953 to 1963 and a member of the Massachusetts Senate from 1964 to 1970. He was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention of 1968. After the retirement of longtime Congressman John W. McCormack, Moakley ran for the Democratic nomination in the 9th District, but lost to Boston School Committee chairwoman Louise Day Hicks against the backdrop of Boston's unfolding busing crisis. He was a Boston City Councilman from 1971 to 1973,
In 1972, however, Moakley ran as an independent against Hicks, and defeated her by 3,400 votes. He had let it be known that he would serve as a Democrat if elected, and was sworn in as a Democrat on January 3, 1973. He was reelected 14 times, never facing substantive opposition. He only faced Republican challengers six times; the other times he was either completely unopposed or faced only minor-party opposition. In 2002, he posthumously received the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award for his unrelenting commitment to ending the war in El Salvador and throughout Central America, and for the compassionate care he gave his constituents in Massachusetts for nearly three decades.
In 2001, Joe Moakley announced that he would not be running for re-election for his 17th-term in 2002, due to his ongoing battle with myelodysplastic syndrome. Moakley died on May 28, 2001, in Bethesda, Maryland. His body was interred in Blue Hill Cemetery, Braintree, Massachusetts.
The Hematological Cancer Research Investment and Education Act, enacted in 2002, establishes the Joe Moakley Research Excellence Program for expanded and coordinated blood cancer research programs. He was succeeded in office by Stephen Lynch.
Opposition to the legislative veto
Moakley was prominent in the opposition to the legislative veto, which became an increasingly popular device in the 1970s. He held up in committee a controversial bill proposed by Rep. Elliott Levitas that proposed to institute the legislative veto as a general feature of legislation. His position was vindicated when the Supreme Court held in INS v. Chadha (1983) that the legislative veto was an unconstitutional violation the bicameralism and presentment clauses of the U.S. Constitution.
Joe Moakley chaired the Committee on Rules in the 101st Congress through 103rd Congresses.
Moakley managed to have a bridge in Boston named for his wife, Evelyn Moakley, after her death. The Evelyn Moakley Bridge is next to a U.S. Courthouse, which was subsequently named the John Joseph Moakley Federal Courthouse shortly before his death.
Moakley's efforts led to the acquisition by Bridgewater State College (Bridgewater, MA) of a US$10 million grant. The grant allowed the construction of the campus fiber network and a new regional telecommunications facility, which dramatically enhances the teaching capability of the region's educational professionals and promotes the growth of the region's economy. The John Joseph Moakley Center for Technological Applications provides training in the use of technology for students, teachers, and members of the workforce. The three-story building houses a large computer lab, a television studio, an auditorium, and numerous classrooms.