On Thursday, July 1, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Arizona’s GOP voter suppression law—a crushing blow to our freedom to vote. This will have dire effects on the whole country, but especially in Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s home state of Arizona.
In order to restore and protect our democracy, we must pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Act. But both bills are blocked in the Senate due to the filibuster—an archaic rule that Sinema still defends.
The Arizona law that the Supreme Court just upheld throws out the votes of legitimate voters who cast a provisional ballot in the wrong precinct, and makes it even harder for Arizonans to vote by mail. If the courts won’t even save us from voter suppression, the U.S. Senate must.
On June 22, the Senate voted to advance S.1, the For the People Act—crucial legislation that would stop partisan gerrymandering, curb the flow of dark money, and block some of the most outrageous voter suppression laws like the ones in Arizona. But despite support from all 50 Senate Democrats, it failed because the filibuster requires 60 votes to proceed.
Sinema claims she supports the For the People Act, but then refuses to do anything for it to become law. She even said that the Senate filibuster “protects democracy,” that it “encourages bipartisanship” and that we all just need to “change behavior” to get things done.
A law that would protect democracy from voter suppression in Sinema’s own state has been blocked because of the filibuster. And the partisan split on the Senate vote proves that the filibuster certainly does not encourage senators to find bipartisanship. All it does is empower the Republican minority to obstruct legislation that would protect our democracy.
Sinema has kept up her defense of an archaic Senate rule (which is not in the constitution), while her own constituents are losing their freedom to vote. It is time for her to recognize that the filibuster stands in the way of the freedom to vote, and must be repealed.
After the Supreme Court decision on July 1, Sinema finally issued a statement:
“The right to vote, faith in the integrity of our electoral process, and trust in elected officials are critical to the health and vitality of our democracy. Today’s ruling will hurt Arizonans’ ability to make their voices heard at the ballot box. Congress must come together to strengthen the Voting Rights Act and protect every American’s right to vote by passing commonsense legislation, including the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which I am proud to cosponsor.”
Notice how she mentions the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, but does not mention the For the People Act. The John Lewis Voting Rights Act is important, but is insufficient at blocking the GOP war on voting that is emboldened by this Court decision.
The reason she didn’t mention the For the People Act is because the Senate already voted on it, and under current filibuster rules it did not pass. The John Lewis Act still has not had a vote in the Senate yet, but it’s doubtful we would have 10 Republicans to join all 50 Democrats in support.
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