Republican minority again blocks new law to protect the sacred right to vote, clearly spotlighting need for filibuster reform
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) today released the following statement after voting to move forward on the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which Republicans blocked.
“I am a strong supporter of the bipartisan John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Congress has a historic and bipartisan tradition of coming together across party lines to safeguard and strengthen the right to vote, which is the bedrock of our democracy. Congress passed and the states ratified the 15th Amendment after the Civil War, which declares that ‘the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.’ The 15th Amendment also states that ‘Congress shall power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.’
“That is exactly what the Senate is trying to do today with the John Lewis legislation. This legislation would restore key provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that were severely weakened by the Supreme Court’s decisions in Shelby County v. Holder and Brnovich. The VRA was designed to protect equal access to elections for all eligible Americans, and was passed in response to widespread disenfranchisement – particularly of racial and language minority groups – between the post-Civil War period and the 1960s. The John Lewis legislation would require federal preclearance for certain changes to voting law and procedures, and operates to block changes that restrict the right to vote, particularly focusing on changes that disproportionately disenfranchise minority communities. This measure would allow plaintiffs and the Justice Department to bring lawsuits that deny or abridge the voting rights of minority voters, and restore the legal tools needed to enforce nationwide, permanent federal prohibitions against voter suppression efforts targeting minorities.
“It is now clear that we cannot pass voting rights legislation as long as Senate Republicans vow to filibuster on this issue. Senators should not be allowed to simply refuse to the debate the issue of voting rights without proposing their own amendments or changes to this legislation. Inaction on voting rights is not an option as we prepare for our 2022 elections, which must be free and fair so that the American people have faith in our elections and their outcomes, particularly after the attempted insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.
“The filibuster needs to change.”