Sen Cassidy Says SCOTUS Decision Gutting Voting Rights Act Justifies Restrictive State Election Laws

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Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) appeared on CNN’s State of The Union show (01/16/22) to put forward the Republican position on the push for a federal voting rights legislation(John Lewis Voting Rights Act), and also discuss the related question as to whether the U.S. Senate should change its filibuster rules to allow for the passage of the said voting rights law via a simple majority vote. When asked by host Jake Tapper why Republicans are now opposed to keeping key provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act(VRA) intact, when as recently as a decade ago they were all for it, Sen Cassidy gave a strange response which appeared to suggest that because the Roberts Supreme Court gutted key provisions of the VRA in Shelby County v Holder(2013), there is no need to be concerned about discriminatory state election laws–that this is not 1965 anymore, things have changed.

Yours Truly, and I suspect a lot of other viewers too, found Senator Cassidy’s Response quite strange because while liberals agree that this is not 1965, and that progress has been made on the civil rights front, we need to restore key aspects of the 1965 Voting Rights Act because Trump’s GOP is taking us back to 1965. In other words, Senator Cassidy, and by extension the Roberts Supreme Court, are totally wrong in their assessment that simply because this is not 1965, Republican states are no longer capable of crafting discriminatory election laws. The facts on the ground clearly show that after the 2020 election, relying on former President Trump’s “big lie“, many Republican-controlled states have hurriedly enacted election laws that reasonable people agree, disenfranchise voters of color.

Senator Cassidy specifically said on CNNSOTU(video @ 2:20 onwards): “The Supreme Court decided[paused for effect], the Supreme Court decided that the conditions in 1965 are different than the conditions now. Imagine that. We’ve had an African-American elected President of the United States, we’ve had an African-American elected to the Vice Presidency, an African-American elected to the[U.S.]Senate in South Carolina. Now, if anyone can’t see that circumstances have changed, they’re just not believing their lying eye…There’s more to do, absolutely, we need safeguards, but to argue we are still the same as we were in 1965 is to deny facts that are clearly before us.”

There’s no other way any reasonable person presented with Senator Cassidy’s response(including his pause for effect), would arrive at any other conclusion other than, because the Roberts Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013 citing changed conditions, the voter suppression laws currently popping up in red states are justified. Think about that, the new Republican rationale for voter suppression, as articulated by Senator Cassidy, is that it’s not a big deal because if it was, the Roberts Supreme Court would never have gutted key provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act–a sad state of affairs indeed.

Bottom line folks, Dems must use every tool at their disposal to get holdout Senators Kyrsten Sinema(D-AZ) and Joe Manchin(D-WV) to agree to a filibuster carveout for a federal voting rights legislation before the 2022 midterms because if they don’t, all the gains we’ve witnessed thus far as a result of the 1965 Voting Rights Act will be lost, and the Roberts Supreme Court will not lift a finger to assist. Simply put, it’s now or never for a federal voting rights law that restores key provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

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The 22 GOP Senators Up For Reelection In 2020

22 GOP U.S. Senators are up for reelection in 2020. This gives a tremendous advantage to Democrats who only have to defend 12 Senate seats, especially given the concerns a lot of Americans have about the Trump presidency in battleground states. Below is a Handy List of the 22 GOP Senators up for reelection in 2020

As it currently stands the U.S. Senate comprises 52 Republicans and 46 Democrats with 2 Independents who caucus with Democrats, so technically 52-48. To take over the U.S. Senate in 2020, Democrats will need a net gain of 3 Senate seats–a very achievable goal.

Of the 12 Senate Democrats up for reelection, Doug Jones of Alabama is the most vulnerable. The other 11 are in states that typically lean Democratic.

On the Republican side the most vulnerable Senators are Susan Collins(ME), Cory Gardner(CO) and Martha McSally(AZ) plus there are two open seats in Kansas and Tennessee where the incumbent Republicans have chosen not to run in 2020.

It’s also worth pointing out that even though Texas has traditionally voted Republican in Presidential cycles, the recent cliffhanger between Beto O’Rouke and Republican senator Ted Cruz means incumbent Senator John Cornyn’s seat is not a sure bet for Republicans in 2020. This means Dems have a very good shot at flipping 4-5 GOP senate seats in 2020

Bottom line, 2020 presents Democrats with a great opportunity to recapture the U.S. Senate. Dems however must not be complacent but instead contest every U.S. Senate seat to get as close as possible to the magic 60 number.

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You may reach the author via email at author@grassrootsdempolitics.com or author@emolumentsclause.com