Martin Luther King III criticized Senator Kirsten Sinema (D-Arizona) after her speech Thursday in which she announced she would not support changes to Senate rules to pass major Democratic voting rights bills, accusing the Arizona MP of being “sticks to heritage”. prominent segregationist and white supremacist father, the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
“History will remember Senator Sinema unkindly,” King III said in a statement shortly after Cinema’s speech ended on the Senate floor. “While Senator Cinema remains stubborn in his ‘optimism’, black and brown Americans are losing the right to vote.
“She supports the legacy of Bull Connor and George Wallace, not the legacy of my father and all those who fought to make our democracy a reality,” King added.
Connor was a white supremacist whose brutal attempts to enforce segregation and crack down on civil rights activists from his seat as city commissioner of Birmingham, Alabama, made him one of the most prominent figures in opposition to the civil rights movement. Wallace, a former governor of Alabama and a former Democratic presidential candidate, was a staunch segregator for the rest of his life.
Sinema’s speech nearly killed Democrats’ attempts to pass two major packages of voting rights and electoral reforms – the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Extended Voting Rights Act – just minutes after the House of Representatives passed updated versions of both bills.
Cinema has confirmed that it supports both pieces of legislation, but not a change to the Senate’s filibuster rules, which require 60 votes to pass bills. Both bills lack the Republican backing needed to overcome the pirates. Without Sinema, Senate Democrats don’t have the 50 votes needed to reform filibusters and pass legislation with a simple majority.
Her speech was heavily criticized by voting rights activists and anti-obstruction reformers, who have argued for months that the passage of two voting bills is vital to preventing the onset of new Republican state laws that impose new restrictions on voting rights. Reform advocates point out that the filibuster has historically served as a useful tool to thwart major civil rights legislation.
“When the civil rights bill of 1891 was stonewalled, it ushered in the 100th anniversary of Jim Crow,” Arndrea Waters King, civil rights activist and wife of King, said in a statement. “If Senator Cinema’s position continues, she will prolong this century of white supremacy’s stranglehold on our democracy.”
And, as Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA) argued on the Senate floor before Christmas, the rule imposes a supermajority threshold on Democrats’ efforts to protect voting rights, which does not prevent the Republican Party from trying to limit them in the states. , where a simple majority was enough to pass 31 new laws to restrict voting in 19 states last year.
While Cinema’s speech appears doomed to fail in efforts to pass two bills that would invalidate many of the harshest provisions of the new GOP laws and set federal voting rights standards, the Kings and other civil rights activists will stage events and call for immediate passage. bill. legislation in Phoenix, Washington DC, and other cities next Monday to coincide with Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
“We’ll be in Phoenix this weekend to remind Senator Cinema what Dr. King once said, ‘There’s always the right time to do what’s right,'” Waters King said in a statement.