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A sign reads, "End the filibuster" at a protest in New York

A participant is seen holding a sign reading, "End the filibuster" at a protest in New York City on July 26, 2021. (Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Supreme Court Attack on Roe Reignites Demand to 'Kill the Filibuster'

"Do we keep the filibuster or do we protect abortion rights?" asked Sen. Ed Markey. "Do we allow the far-right to have the last word on Roe v. Wade or do we fight back?"

Julia Conley

Advocates for reproductive justice and court reform alike added their voices to calls for the elimination of the filibuster on Thursday after the U.S. Supreme Court effectively overturned Roe vs. Wade, ruling 5-4 that an extreme forced--birth law in Texas could stand. 
 
Since the Democratic Party took control of the U.S. House, Senate, and White House in January, groups including the Poor People's Campaign and Stand Up America have demanded the filibuster be abolished to ensure Democrats can pass voting rights and pro-worker legislation with a simple majority instead of needing a 60-vote threshold. 
 
Now, advocates are demanding Democrats pass legislation to ensure people have the right to obtain abortion care even without Roe vs. Wade in place and to expand the Supreme Court—two measures that advocates say could protect women across the country from the attack on reproductive rights by the majority of right-wing justices.  right wing-led panel's attack on reproductive rights.
 
Democratic senators "in the way" of filibuster reform "need to get on board," said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). "The stakes are too high."
 
Conservative Democratic Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) have both refused to support ending the filibuster even as the Senate rule stands in the way of passing key pieces of President Joe Biden's agenda.

"There's not a second to lose, and it's high time Democrats do what they promised they would do if voters handed them the reins: Protect our fundamental rights, and restore balance to our government."
—Christina Harvey, Stand Up America

 
Eliminating the filibuster would make it easier for the Democrats to pass the Women's Health Protection Act, which was reintroduced in Congress earlier this year by a group of lawmakers led by Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) and which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday the House would vote on later this month.
 
In the Senate, all but two Democrats—Manchin and Sen. Bob Casey (D-Penn.)—have signed on to the Women's Health Protection Act as cosponsors. 
 
Ocasio-Cortez was among the lawmakers on Thursday who called on senators to expand the number of seats on the Supreme Court, another method some advocates and legal experts have pushed as a way of protecting Americans' rights, including the right to abortion. 
 
Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) introduced the Judiciary Act in April, calling on Congress to restore balance to the nation's highest court "after four years of norm-breaking actions by Republicans led to its current composition and greatly damaged the Court's standing in the eyes of the American people."
 
Groups including Demand Justice and Stand Up America have expressed strong support for adding four seats to the court, which could be done through a straightforward act of Congress and doesn't require a constitutional amendment.
 
"Our rights—from the right to vote freely to the right to bodily agency—are under attack," said Christina Harvey, executive director of Stand Up America. "Congress must rebalance the Supreme Court by passing the Judiciary Act of 2021 to add an additional four seats to the court."
 
“Every single Democrat should cosponsor the Judiciary Act," Harvey added. "There's not a second to lose, and it's high time Democrats do what they promised they would do if voters handed them the reins: Protect our fundamental rights, and restore balance to our government."
 
There are no cosponsors of Markey's bill in the Senate yet, but members of the House including Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Marie Newman (D-Ill.) expressed support for the measure on Thursday.
 
President Joe Biden must lead his party, said Newman in an interview Wednesday night on The Mehdi Hasan Show, and "take action" to ensure Congress has the power to
protect reproductive rights without the filibuster getting in the way. 
 
"Support expanding the court, support the Women's Health Protection Act," said Newman. "Is there something we can do to get around the filibuster? I believe there is."
 
The Democratic Party has a choice to make, Markey said: "Do we keep the filibuster or do we protect abortion rights?"
 
"Do we allow the stolen Republican SCOTUS majority to remain forever or do we protect abortion rights?" he added. "Do we allow the far-right to have the last word on Roe v. Wade or do we fight back?"

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