In the 1926 Massachusetts House session, Rep. Birmingham joined with Rep. Patrick Moran in introducing a bill urging the U.S. Senate not to approve U.S. membership in the World Court. The bill did not make it out of committee.
The Covenant of the League of Nations had called for the setting up of a World Court in The Hague, Netherlands. Although President Woodrow Wilson was unsuccessful in convincing the U.S. to join the League of Nations, U.S. diplomat Elihu Root assisted in the drafting of the World Court’s protocol. President Harding recommended in 1923 that the U.S. join the World Court.
In January 1926, the U.S. Senate voted to join the World Court, but with a number of major reservations that proved unacceptable to the World Court members. As a result, in November 1926, President Coolidge announced that the U.S. would not join the World Court.
In his third year as a state representative, Rep. Birmingham tackled the controversial subject of capital punishment. He introduced House bill No. 911 to abolish capital punishment as a penalty for the crime of murder. However, the bill did not make it out of committee.
Birmingham also introduced House bill No. 912 providing that juries be permitted to recommend the form of punishment of those found guilty of first degree murder. Again, the bill did not make it out of committee. This would be the fate of many of his bill in a Republican-controlled House.
Also in 1927, Birmingham introduced House bill No. 698, which provided for payment of compensation in cases of industrial accidents when employees are totally incapacitated.
In just a few short years, Rep. Birmingham was able to gain sufficient support of the Democratic members of the House to be elected Democratic House Floor Leader in 1929.
Following the decision by Edward J. Kelley of Worcester not to seek a third term as Democratic floor leader, Birmingham, along with William H. Hearn and Joseph Finnegan all of Boston, vied for the position in December 1928, reported the Boston Herald (Dec. 5, 1928, p 26).
Birmingham received 46 votes, and Hearn received 32, the in the second ballot, according to the Boston Globe, Jan. 2, 1929 (p. 14). On the first ballot, Finnegan received 2 votes.
Had the Democrats been in control of the House, Birmingham would have become Speaker of the House. But the Republicans controlled the House during Birmingham’s term in office. He served as Democratic House Floor Leader until 1934.
Leverett Saltonstall, a Republican representative from Newton, was elected Speaker of the House in 1929, a position he held until 1936. Saltonstall would go on to serve as governor of Massachusetts from 1939 to 1945 and a U.S. senator from 1945 to 1967.