Elizabeth Warren: Filibuster 'has deep roots in racism'

Elizabeth Warren: Filibuster 'has deep roots in racism'
© Greg Nash

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenThe Memo: 2024 chatter reveals Democratic nervousness We are America's independent contractors, and we are terrified Fed's Brainard faces GOP pressure on climate stances MORE (D-Mass.) on Thursday called the filibuster racist as progressive calls to eliminate the Senate procedural move grow.

“The filibuster ... was designed to give the South the ability to veto any effective civil rights legislation or anti-lynching legislation,” Warren told Axios.

“The filibuster has deep roots in racism, and it should not be permitted to serve that function, or to create a veto for the minority. In a democracy, it's majority rules,” she added.


Rep. Hank JohnsonHenry (Hank) C. JohnsonThe truth of Jan. 6 is coming to light — accountability will fall to the courts Georgia Republicans advance map that aims to pick up House seat in redistricting Democrats call out Biden Supreme Court commission MORE (D-Ga.) echoed these sentiments, telling Axios, “It's important that we not continue to allow the filibuster to be a tool used to suppress the right to vote, that black people have fought and died for.”

The idea of the filibuster as racist dates back to the pre-Civil War era, when the legislative tactic was used to block the admission of states based on their slavery status, political scientist and University of Miami congressional specialist Gregory Koger told Politifact.

Later on, during the Reconstruction and post-Reconstruction eras, senators used filibusters against civil rights bills, the deployment of federal troops in southern states, and the repayment of income taxes from the Civil War, Kroger added.

These comments come amid tense debate regarding the future of the filibuster. Several Democrats are keen on eliminating the 60-vote requirement to advance legislation, while Republicans are staunchly opposed.

Senate Democrats, however, do not yet have enough votes to reform the rules in the 50-50 chamber.

Liberals fear that without filibuster reform, several of the Biden administration's top priorities — including legislation on voting rights, climate change and gun reform — are DOA in the upper chamber.

“The filibuster is still making a mockery of American democracy. The filibuster is still being misused by some senators to block legislation urgently needed and supported by a strong majority of the American people,” Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinClyburn says he 'wholeheartedly' endorses Biden's voting rights remarks GOP senator knocks Biden for 'spreading things that are untrue' in voting rights speech Sinema, Manchin curb Biden's agenda MORE (D-Ill.) said on Monday.

Republicans are accusing Democrats of hypocrisy for discussing changes to the filibuster when they used it to block GOP proposals during the previous Congress.

“Senator Warren filibuster[ed] multiple bills last year,” a top aide for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnell​​Democrats make voting rights push ahead of Senate consideration Hogan won't say if he will file to run for Senate by Feb. 22 deadline Voting rights, Trump's Big Lie, and Republicans' problem with minorities MORE (R-Ky.) wrote on Twitter in response to Warren’s comments.

On Tuesday, McConnell did not mince words when warning against removing the filibuster, saying, “Let me say this very clearly for all 99 of my colleagues: Nobody serving in this chamber can even begin, can even begin, to imagine what a completely scorched-earth Senate would look like.”


President BidenJoe BidenCarville advises Democrats to 'quit being a whiny party' Wendy Sherman takes leading role as Biden's 'hard-nosed' Russia negotiator Sullivan: 'It's too soon to tell' if Texas synagogue hostage situation part of broader extremist threat MORE leaned into the filibuster debate on Tuesday, endorsing a change to the Senate rules that would bring back the talking filibuster.

“You had to stand up and command the floor and you had to keep talking along,” Biden said during an interview with ABC News anchor George StephanopoulosGeorge Robert StephanopoulosAlec Baldwin turns over cell phone in 'Rust' probe How a nice-guy South Dakota senator fell into a Trump storm GOP senator says he would 'take a hard look' at another Trump run MORE. “Once you stopped talking, you lost that and someone could move in and say, I move to the question of.”

“You’ve got to work for the filibuster. It is almost getting to the point where democracy is having a hard time functioning,” he added.