Amid calls for the Senate to eliminate the filibuster so that Democrats can pass their legislative agenda, some are arguing it has roots in racism.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) blasted the filibuster as she argued it was created to preserve Jim Crow laws.
She told Axios that the procedural hurdle, which requires that most legislation needs 60 votes to pass “has deep roots in racism, and it should not be permitted to serve that function, or to create a veto for the minority. In a democracy, it’s majority rules.”
“When they didn’t want a simple majority, for example, in an impeachment, they said so specifically,” she continued. “The filibuster is a later creation that was designed to give the South the ability to veto any effective civil rights legislation or anti-lynching legislation.”
The Senate’s website describes the filibuster as “a loosely defined term for action designed to prolong debate and delay or prevent a vote on a bill, resolution, amendment, or other debatable question.”
Warren is not alone in calling the filibuster racist, and in a column in The Atlantic, David Litt argued that it is a “relic of the Jim Crow era.”
“The Senate filibuster—the rule that allows a minority of senators to block nearly every piece of legislation—may not have the literal weight of stone or metal. But it, too, is a direct legacy of segregation, and it remains a tool for maintaining systemic racism. In this moment of long-overdue reckoning, it’s time for the filibuster to go,” he explained.
He noted that Democrats used the filibuster to block a police reform bill that was crafted by Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and other legislation during former President Donald Trump’s time in office.
“I didn’t react to that by saying, ‘Okay, we’ll change the rules of the Senate to get our way. It’s not broken, and it doesn’t need to be fixed. This is a solution in search of a problem. It is not a problem that the Senate stops bad ideas or negotiates bipartisan solutions,” he added.