The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Roger Kerson,

GOP Senate Minority Disrespects a Civil Rights Hero-and Disenfranchises Millions of Voters


With yet another filibuster of crucial voting rights legislation, a minority of Republican in the U.S. Senate have disrespected an American hero and are disenfranchising millions of voters of color, leaders of the Democracy Initiative said today.

"Today is a sad day," said Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause and co-chair of the Democracy Initiative Board of Directors. "A minority of senators are again blocking progress we need to ensure that everyone has the freedom to vote. This time, they are doing it by disrespecting the legacy of John Lewis, a true hero who put his life on the line for democracy and the landmark Voting Rights Act that the legislation named in his honor would strengthen."

"We can and will overcome this setback so we can honor the life and work of John Lewis and all the brave people who faced down dogs, firehoses, vicious beatings and other violent obstacles to advance the cause of civil rights," said Tefere Gebre, Tefere Gebre, Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO and also a co-chair of the Democracy Initiative Board of Directors. "The path forward is clear: We must fix or nix the filibuster so that bills with majority support can be debated and come to a vote on the Senate floor."

The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act passed the House of Representatives in August. It will restore important voting protections that have been gutted by recent controversial Supreme Court decisions. This includes a pre-clearance requirement for changes in election laws in jurisdictions with documented past practices of racially discriminatory voting procedures.

Following unfavorable Supreme Court decisions, a number of states have passed restrictive voting laws which narrowly and specifically target Black and Brown voters, creating new obstacles for disenfranchised communities.

"What has happened to our country?" asked Charly Carter, executive director of the Democracy Initiative. "In 2006, the Voting Rights Act passed with a unanimous vote in the Senate and was signed into law by a Republican president. The right to vote is not and should never be a partisan issue; when more people participate, everyone wins."

"Today's lack of action in the Senate presents a stark choice for President Biden, Majority Leader Schumer and their Democratic colleagues," said Carter. "We can protect our democracy, or we can preserve the filibuster. We choose democracy!"

The Democracy Initiative is a coalition of 75 organizations with a collective 45 million members fighting for workers, civil rights, social justice and the environment. DI partner organizations are united in their commitment to realizing the promise of American democracy where all people have an equal seat at the governance table.