State Watch

Sanders calls for the end of the filibuster following Obama’s remarks

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) expressed his support for axing the Senate filibuster on Thursday, after former President Obama called the legislative tactic a “Jim Crow relic” during his eulogy for civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) in Atlanta.

“President Obama is absolutely right,” Sanders said in a statement. “It is an outrage that modern-day poll taxes, gerrymandering, I.D. requirements, and other forms of voter suppression still exist today.”

He added: “We must pass a comprehensive agenda to guarantee the rights and dignity of everyone in this country. And that means, among other things, reauthorizing and expanding the Voting Rights Act, for which Congressman John Lewis put his life on the line.”

The Senate filibuster — which requires 60 votes for legislation to proceed — has long been a tactic used by senators of both parties to run out the clock on measures that they oppose.

It is widely believed even if Democrats win back the Senate and keep control of the House in November that the filibuster will need to be done away with in order for key Democratic legislation to pass, such as Lewis’s voting rights bill.

The filibuster has been lowered to a simple majority for certain points of business such as confirmation of Supreme Court nominees and other federal appointments but still largely remains intact. 

Lewis’s bill, which has yet to reach the Senate, seeks to change a 5-4 Supreme Court decision in 2013 that waived Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, legislation that Lewis fought for as a young activist in the American South.

Section 5 of the landmark law required states with a recent history of racism at the ballot box to get federal approval — known as preclearance — before amending their voting laws.

Many legal analysts have said the striking down of the provision has proved detrimental to the U.S.’s minority voting populations, allowing states to pass voting laws that have placed an unfair burden on the blocs. 

“The decision in Shelby County opened the floodgates to laws restricting voting throughout the United States,” according to the left-leaning Brennan Center for Justice. “The effects were immediate. Within 24 hours of the ruling, Texas announced that it would implement a strict photo ID law. Two other states, Mississippi and Alabama, also began to enforce photo ID laws that had previously been barred because of federal preclearance.”

Tags Barack Obama Bernie Sanders Bernie Sanders John Lewis John Lewis President Obama Voting Rights Act

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