WASHINGTON, D.C., October 14, 2021 – Today four of Arizona’s leading constitutional law experts — including former Arizona Supreme Court Justice Stanley Feldman and Paul Bender, Dean Emeritus for the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law — submitted a letter to Senator Kyrsten Sinema rebutting her claim that the Senate filibuster serves as a “guardrail” to “[protect] the democracy of our nation.”
In their letter, the constitutional law experts urged Senator Sinema to support a modified filibuster allowing for the passage of urgently needed voting rights protections. The letter comes three months after the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in Brnovich v. DNC, and after dozens of states, including Arizona, have passed new voting rights restrictions targeting democratic voters and people of color. Senator Sinema’s staunch support of the filibuster is one of the primary obstacles to advancing federal voting rights legislation out of the Senate.
The signers urge Senator Sinema to recognize that preserving the tradition of the filibuster is less important than protecting democracy itself. They note that:
“When there is a conflict between the filibuster and the people’s ability to protect fundamental constitutional rights, then it is those rights — and not the filibuster — that must win out. To allow otherwise would place the filibuster, a procedural mechanism, above the most important tenets of our democratic system.”
They conclude: “We implore you, given the urgency and importance of this moment, to support a carve out that and ensures the Senate does not prioritize procedure over the nation’s Constitution and the fundamental rights of Arizonans.”
Alliance for Justice Action Fund President Rakim Brooks issued the following statement:
“After the January 6th insurrection, it should be clear that our democracy is at its most fragile point in over a century. We join these legal experts in calling on Senator Sinema to fully embrace democracy, including in the hallowed halls of the Senate. It’s time to abandon the Jim Crow filibuster once and for all and inject the federal voting rights and election protections our democracy so desperately needs. Every American must be assured that their constitutional right to vote will be respected.”