Posted on July 31, 2020

Obama Calls Filibuster ‘Jim Crow Relic,’ Backs New Voting Rights Act Bill

John Kruzel, The Hill, July 30, 2020

Former President Obama on Thursday called the Senate filibuster rule a “Jim Crow relic” and said it should be ended to help pass legislation that would restore a key provision of the Voting Rights Act.

Obama made the remarks while delivering a eulogy for civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who died earlier this month at the age of 80. The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act would make it harder for states to enact racially suspect voting restrictions.

“Once we pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, we should keep marching,” Obama said. “And if all this takes eliminating the filibuster — another Jim Crow relic — in order to secure the God-given rights of every American, then that’s what we should do.”

The former president’s support for nixing the Senate filibuster — a procedural tactic that requires 60 votes for legislation to proceed — is likely to spark intense political debate. If Democrats win back both the Senate and the White House, they will be under pressure to get rid of the filibuster rule in order to push through high-priority legislation.

Changing Senate rules through a simple majority, a move sometimes referred to as the “nuclear option,” would be highly controversial, and it’s unclear if Democrats would have the political will or the votes needed to end the procedure.

But doing so would give them a better shot of passing measures like the Lewis bill on voting rights, even with a slim majority.