I saw it again today. This time, the following exchange stood out to me the most. It takes place after Stevens tried to keep Democratic opposition in the House calm by insisting he believed only in equality before the law, rather than racial equality simpliciter:
Asa Litton: The basis of every hope for this country’s future life – you denied Negro equality! I’m nauseated. You refused to say that all humans are, well, human! Have you lost your very soul, Mr. Stevens? Is there nothing you won’t say?
Stevens: I’m sorry you’re nauseous, Asa, that must be unpleasant. I want the amendment to pass so that the Constitution’s first and only mention of slavery is its absolute prohibition. For this amendment, for which I have worked all of my life, and for which countless coloured men and women have fought and died, and now hundreds of thousands of soldiers – No, sir. No. It seems there is very nearly nothing I won’t say.
I hope Kantians were listening.
My thoughts on the film here.