“While the filibuster’s origins in the early American republic have little to do with race, the practice has changed substantially over time. And the modern version, created in 1917, really does have a racist history.
“You start to see civil rights bills pass the House in the 1920s, and it was consistently used to block them,””
““If there was any ambiguity in the antebellum era, it certainly shed that during the Jim Crow era — where it was widely taken for granted that the filibuster was directly tied to [blocking] civil rights.””
“One of the most fundamental justifications for the filibuster offered by McConnell and conservative thinkers is that the practice protects minority rights, preventing the Senate majority from running roughshod over its political opponents.
The Jim Crow history of the filibuster shows that this defense relies on a philosophically impoverished notion of what “minority rights” means. It misunderstands what kinds of minorities need protecting in a democracy, and from whom.”
“the filibuster allows people who already have power to prevent changes to the political system. On civil rights issues, this effect almost always tends to redound to the benefit of people who want to preserve the racial status quo. There’s a reason why late 20th century liberals and groups like the NAACP repeatedly called for filibuster reform or abolition: They knew it would always stand in the way of fundamental system reforms.
“It is not a coincidence that the tool that blocks civil rights continues to be the tool that blocks progressive change today,” Jentleson says. “Even after the civil rights era, as the filibuster started to be used by both parties, it still consistently favored the party of established corporate power and the entrenched status quo.”
Right now, state-level Republicans are pursuing a series of bills disproportionately likely to disenfranchise nonwhite voters, an effort that the Brennan Center’s president Michael Waldman calls “the most significant attempted cutback of voting rights since the Jim Crow era.” Senate Republicans are protecting this offensive, blocking federal legislation like HR 1 and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act that could militate fair elections at the state level.
One could imagine all 50 Democrats voting for some version of these bills. So long as the filibuster remains intact, state-level Republicans are free to infringe on the rights of actually vulnerable minorities to their heart’s content.
This is the modern filibuster working as it always has.”