Minnesota Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar is on a completely justifiable rampage.
That’s presumably directed to her colleagues who have been full of tough talk and tweets on abortion rights, and voting rights, and every other horror the Supreme Court and Republican states are imposing on the nation. Tough talk doesn’t cut it, and good for Klobuchar for trying to shake Democrats out of their permanent posture of helplessness.
She might also have been more specifically aiming that tweet at colleague Kyrsten Sinema, who on Saturday finally got around to making a comment about the Supreme Court’s decision to let abortion rights in Texas end. To be clear, Sinema didn’t actually say anything. She tweeted a meme. Which means even Republican Sen. Susan Collins had better and more timely response, by virtue of the fact that she used her own words if nothing else.
Klobuchar also appeared on CNN’S State of the Union Sunday to urge her colleagues to get rid of the filibuster. “Now and over the next years, we just will get nowhere if we keep this filibuster in place,” she told CNN’s Dana Bash. “I do not believe an archaic rule should be used to allow us to put our heads in the sand—to use Justice (Sonia) Sotomayor’s words—to put our heads in the sand and not take action on the important issues,” Klobuchar said, calling the Texas law and the Supreme Court’s response “an assault on women’s health.”
“This decision that they made with the state of Texas is unbelievable,” Klobuchar said. “Here you have them this year, this week, basically telling women in Texas that 85% of them seeking abortion services cannot exercise their constitutional rights. … And basically greenlighted a law that is blatantly against Roe v. Wade.” She also called for Justice Stephen Breyer to retire, and reiterated her support for expanding the Supreme Court. “I believe, if [Breyer] is seriously considering retirement—and he has said he would do it based on not only his own health but also the future of the court—if this decision doesn’t cry out for that, I don’t—I don’t know what does,” she told Bash. While she supports expanding the court, she said she doesn’t believe that the current court is “going to change any time in the near future.”
It could, though, and Klobuchar—every Democratic senator—is on the hook for making that happen. It’s urgently important that they end the filibuster and expand the court as soon as humanly possible. Because Texas is on a roll. A horrifying one for the rights of all American citizens. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed the state’s voter suppression bill on Tuesday—the bill that Texas Democrats fought valiantly to no avail, finding precious little help beyond words from Congress.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has repeatedly said that everything, including ditching the filibuster is “on the table” to pass new voting rights protections and the For the People Act to reform elections process and campaign finance. He’s been saying that since at least March, and yet here we are. He also tweeted about fighting the Texas abortion law. “This fight is only just beginning. Democrats will fight against #SB8 and for Roe v. Wade.”
The House is going to take up, and probably pass, legislation to codify the right to an abortion when it returns in the last weeks of September. That’s going to be filibustered in the Senate, just like voting rights have been. When that happened, President Biden gave a stemwinder of a speech, saying that Republicans must “stand up, for God’s sake,” and oppose voting restrictions, asking, “Have you no shame?”
Of course, they have no shame, and here we are. In that same speech, the one word Biden didn’t apply to the situation was “filibuster.” He’s been demonstrably reticent to push his former colleagues on the issue of the filibuster, even in the face of these extreme challenges to the continued existence of this democratic republic. “I have believed throughout that if President Biden wants to get this done, he can,” Eli Zupnick, spokesman for anti-filibuster group Fix Our Senate, told TPM. “But if he doesn’t prioritize it and use the bully pulpit and his political capital to protect democracy, then it very likely won’t happen.”
This is on all of us now. It’s on Biden, but it’s also on every Democratic senator, which means it’s also on every one of us. Amy Klobuchar needs to pressure every one of her colleagues—and President Biden—and we need to help her do that.