From the Left



Senate Sets Stage for Showdown on Voting Rights

Jamie Stiehm on

The Capitol candlelight vigil for the mob attack on Congress gave way to a Senate showdown on voting rights -- a scene straight from the heart of darkness.

Timed for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, it's a showdown Senate Democrats don't know they can win. But they have to try, for a fair field in the upcoming midterms. Plus, it's a great chance for Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who plays Hamlet to the hilt, to choose "to be" with his own party.

President Joe Biden gave a speech in Georgia Tuesday, urging the Senate to change its filibuster rules, if necessary, to restore voting rights. That prospect has Senate Republicans breathing fire.

But the heart of darkness is across the street from the Capitol: the Supreme Court. While the Capitol endured a physical brutal assault, the Court often tears down the walls of democracy from inside.

In 2013, the Court struck down a shiny pearl from the civil rights era: the Voting Rights Act. That's the reason why the Senate is in the crosshairs now. The activist Supreme Court acts in all the wrong ways -- with more to come.

Chief Justice John Roberts and other Republicans waged war on a widely praised voting rights law, applied to the South where patterns of racial discrimination persist. The infamous case was brought by Shelby County, Alabama, and brought the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's strongest dissent.


Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer declared, "Everyone in this chamber will have a chance to go on record ... on defending democracy." Since the Jan. 6 siege, he says, voter suppression laws are on the rise.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, canny and shrewd, says a rule change on the 60-vote filibuster would "break the Senate." Why, heavens above, Democrats want to "federalize elections."

Yes, Mitch. Federal offices should be subject to federal oversight laws, as they were for nearly 50 years. Presidential and congressional elections by right need federal backbone and should not be left to uneven states.

In the darkness of the "big lie" loser former President Donald Trump has spread (that the 2020 election was stolen), the urgency of passing a new Voting Rights Act is here and now. The Supreme Court left democracy with no umbrella in the rain, no winter coat on an arctic day.


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