Senators graded on defending voting rights, by Marc H. Morial – Richmond Free Press
How much do your senators care about voter suppression? How committed are they to our most sacred constitutional right? What have they done, and what are they willing to do, to defend it?
The Civil Rights Scorecard answers those questions.
Released last week by the National Urban League, along with the NAACP, the National Action Network, the National Coalition of Black Civic Participation, Fighting for Our Vote Initiative and the National Council of Negro Women, the Scorecard provides civil rights advocates and their supporters with clear insights into the voting patterns of their Senate delegations.
There is no greater crisis facing our nation at this moment than the preservation of democracy. History will judge every member of the U.S. Senate on their commitment to democratic principles. The Civil Rights Scorecard is not just a measure of each senator’s voting record, it is a measure of their character, their integrity and their patriotism.
The grades are based on senators’ votes on the American Rescue Plan Act, the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the For the People Act, along with each senator’s stance on the filibuster – a once-rare procedure that has been weaponized to block major legislation, including voting rights protection bills.
As the Scorecard notes, “the divide between the 51st and 60th vote in the Senate is unbridgeable with the Senate split along partisan lines.”
Senators were awarded one point for each “yes” vote on the three bills, and zero points for a “no” vote, abstention or not voting.
Their stance on the filibuster, which comprised 50 percent of their overall score, was worth three points for abolishing the filibuster, two for reforming it, one for willingness to change it and zero for retaining the filibuster as it currently exists.
Senators with a score of 2.1 to 3 earned an “A” grade; those with a score of 1 to 2 earned an “I” for “incomplete,” and those with a score of 0.9 or lower earned an “F.”
The Scorecard focused on voting rights because every other right stems directly from it. Without the right to vote, we have no say. No voice. No seat at the table to determine public policy on policing, education or economic equity.
“A law is unjust if it is inflicted on a minority that, as a result of being denied the right to vote, had no part in enacting or devising the law,” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote in “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”
Voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams of Georgia expounded on this reality in her book, “Our Time Is Now: Power, Purpose and the Fight for a Fair America.” In it, she wrote: “As millions are stripped of their rights, we live out the policy consequences, from lethal pollution running through poor communities to kindergartners practicing active shooter drills taught with nursery rhymes.”
Our democracy is cracking at the seams. It is crumbling before our eyes. The Scorecard is a clanging alarm, alerting every member of the U.S. Senate that we expect them to honor their constitutional duty and to do everything in their power to protect democracy, including abolishing or reforming the filibuster.
Find the Civil Rights Scorecard at https://naacp.org/resources/civil-rights-scorecard-report?eType=EmailBlastConte nt&eId=2a47325f-932b-441e8e70-6d2693e24893
The writer is president and chief executive officer of the National Urban League.