Female activists march on Capitol in push for voting rights

Female activists march on Capitol in push for voting rights
© Getty Images

Women from the Poor People’s Campaign and its allies on Monday congregated outside the Supreme Court as part of an effort to ratchet up pressure on Democratic lawmakers to pass legislation on voting rights and other top priorities.

The women-led proceedings culminated in the protesters marching from the Supreme Court to the Capitol complex, where much of the crowd was eventually apprehended by Capitol Police.

It is the second Monday in a row that the advocacy group has descended upon the Supreme Court, as the Poor People’s Campaign signaled last week from the steps of the federal building that it was launching “a season of nonviolent, moral direct action and civil disobedience.” The goal is to push Democrats to dissolve the Senate filibuster, pass their voting rights legislation and raise the federal minimum wage to $15 by Aug. 6, the 56th anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act.


“Our democracy is in peril,” the Rev. Liz Theoharis, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, told the gathered crowd.

“Our voting rights are under attack, and economic justice is being denied. … We are calling out the immoral obstructionism of Congress, we're demanding that the United States Senate end the filibuster,” she said.

The filibuster has become public enemy No. 1 for civil rights advocates; many perceive it as the main reason why Democrats’ two voting rights bills — the For the People Act and the John LewisJohn LewisThe Memo: Left pins hopes on Nina Turner in Ohio after recent defeats Manchin 'can't imagine' supporting change to filibuster for voting rights House ethics panel decides against probe after Hank Johnson civil disobedience MORE Voting Rights Advancement Act — have no clear path through the Senate.

The procedural rule that requires 60 “yes” votes for debate on a bill to end has proven to be a formidable opponent to Democrats’ legislative imperatives, and the party has yet to find a consensus solution.

Democrats are divided on whether to ax the rule — moderate Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinThe infrastructure bill creates more need for workforce training The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by AT&T - Simone wins bronze with altered beam routine Jesse Jackson arrested with voting rights protesters at Capitol MORE (W.Va.) and Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaThe infrastructure bill creates more need for workforce training Jesse Jackson arrested with voting rights protesters at Capitol Graham's COVID-19 'breakthrough' case jolts Senate MORE (Ariz.) are squarely against getting rid of the measure.


Additionally, Manchin has expressed concerns about the For the People Act, while remaining optimistic that bipartisan support for the bill named after the late Georgia congressman and voting rights champion can be generated.

Republicans have labeled the For the People Act as a naked Democratic power grab and GOP support for the John Lewis bill is tepid, at best.

Neither have anywhere close to the 10 Republican votes required to clear the filibuster.

The White House has gone on the offensive in recent weeks, with President BidenJoe BidenFive takeaways from the Ohio special primaries FDA aims to give full approval to Pfizer vaccine by Labor Day: report Overnight Defense: Police officer killed in violence outside Pentagon | Biden officials back repeal of Iraq War authorization | NSC pushed to oversee 'Havana Syndrome' response MORE and Vice President Harris delivering multiple speeches to encourage public support of the bills.

Both have Biden’s stamp of approval, though the president has stopped short of endorsing any level of filibuster reform.

Overall, voting rights are currently the apex of partisan battling, as a flood of restrictive voting rights bills have been introduced and passed in GOP-controlled legislatures since the start of the year.

Democrats are in crunch time with Congress’s summer recess only weeks away.

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) has proposed that an exception to the filibuster be allowed that would allow bills related to voting rights the ability to bypass the procedural rule by simple majority.

Some Democrats have latched onto Clyburn’s idea, though it is unclear whether his proposal will have any substantial staying power.

On Thursday, Congressional Black Caucus Chair Joyce BeattyJoyce Birdson BeattyRep. Al Green, Texas state lawmaker arrested outside Capitol during voting rights protest CBC presses Biden to extend eviction moratorium Yellen to brief House Democrats on Tuesday on rental aid MORE (D-Ohio) led a group of pro-voting rights protesters into the Hart Senate Office Building, ultimately resulting in her being taken into custody.

Beatty and her fellow protesters can be heard shouting “end the filibuster” in video taken by reporters on the scene.