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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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