By AAMER MADHANI and DASHA LITVINOV WASHINGTON (AP) – Face to face for over two hours, President Joe Biden and […]
A controversial 6-3 decision by the Supreme Court on Thursday upholding Republican-backed voting restrictions in Arizona has upped the ante for this year's voting rights debate in Congress.
It also means that calls to reform the Senate's rules will only continue to grow, despite recent declarations from Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) that they will not support eliminating or curtailing the filibuster.
Democratic strategists warn the high court's decision in Brnovich v. DNC, which liberals believe has seriously undermined Section 2 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, opens the door for Republican-controlled state legislatures to get more aggressive in passing restrictions that they believe will have a disproportionate impact on minority voter turnout.
Tad Devine, a Democratic strategist who has worked for several presidential candidates, described the battle over voting rights as an "existential fight."
"It should be of tremendous concern," he said. "You have one political party which is hell-bent on depressing turnout. They're backed up now by the Supreme Court of the country and the control of the Congress is very tight right now.
"It's not theoretical, it's a real practical fight. It's clear that they're attempting to limit participation by people who don't vote for them," he said. "I think Democrats have to recognize it for what it is. It's not as obvious as the Jim Crow laws and civil rights battles when African Americans were denied the right to vote but it's moving aggressively in that direction.
"We have to fight on every front," he added. "You have to fight in elections, you have to fight in courts, you have to fight in the court of public opinion.... This is an easy issue to slide under the rug and people would not be paying attention to it."
Derrick Johnson, the president and CEO of the NAACP, called the court's decision "yet another full-frontal attack on our democracy."
"It sent a clear message: While states across the country continue to suppress the votes of Black and Brown people and let the power of big money rig our elections, they will get a free pass," he said.
"Given today's decision and the nearly 30 anti-voting bills that have become law nationwide, Congress must do its job and pass both the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act," he said. "We will not sit idly by while corrupt politicians try to silence us. We will see you in the courts, in Congress and in the streets."
This puts pressure on Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) to bring S. 1, the For the People Act, or key components of it, back to the Senate floor for a vote, even though Republicans blocked the legislation from being considered before the July 4 recess.
Schumer called Thursday "one of the darkest days in all of the Supreme Court's history" and accused the court of "failing to properly respond to a wave of restrictive and discriminatory laws."
"These decisions today only further underscore the need for Congress to act to preserve democracy," he said, citing another 6-3 Supreme Court decision that struck down a California law requiring nonprofit groups to disclose their donors to state officials.
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), the lead sponsor of the For the People Act, called the court's decision "outrageous" and said "this is exactly why we need federal protections to ensure every American has equal access to the ballot box."
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