Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) made a powerful appeal to rid the Senate of the legislative filibuster on Friday.
Warren, who is currently struggling to gain some early traction in the Democratic presidential primary, made the call during a speech at the convention of the National Action Network, a civil-rights organization founded by the Reverend Al Sharpton:
In 2018, the Senate passed a bill to make lynching a federal crime. A similar bill was first introduced in 1918. It was killed repeatedly—by Senate filibusters. An entire century of obstruction because a small group of racists stopped the entire nation from doing what was right. pic.twitter.com/whE3550pR3
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) April 5, 2019
Warren grounded her call in an appeal to racial justice. Though the filibuster has been used to stymie legislation of all sorts, she specifically noted that small groups of conservative senators have since 1918 used it to block laws that would have made lynching a federal crime. It was not until 2018 that the Senate was actually able to pass such a law. And, as she also noted, anti-lynching laws were far from the only laws intended to ameliorate racial inequality that were blocked by minorities of senators using the filibuster.
Warren went on to note that “in recent years, it has been used as a tool by the far right to block Congress on everything.” She pointed to how Republicans were sticklers for such rules as the filibuster while President Obama was in office, only to turn around and throw them over the side once a Republican was in the Oval Office. Most recently, she said, was this week when Republicans blew up the judicial filibuster to make it easier to appoint extreme right-wing judges to lifetime seats on the federal courts.
“And that means,” she concluded, “that when Democrats have the White House again, if Mitch McConnell tries to do what he did to President Obama and puts small-minded partisanship ahead of solving the massive problems in this country, then we should get rid of the filibuster.”
Warren is the first Democratic candidate to call for this change. Other Democratic senators who are running for president have been asked about it in the past, and all have expressed a reluctance to make what they see as a radical change to Senate rules. But Warren seems to understand that the filibuster would be an impediment to enacting the progressive legislation that all of them would push for as president. So getting rid of it is a logical choice.
Watch Warren’s call in the embedded tweet above.