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Dozens of political science experts issue dire warning about retaining the filibuster

More than 150 professors and scholars said America could soon enter a dangerous era of minority rule if Congress doesn't pass the Freedom to Vote Act.


More than 150 political science professors and scholars have issued a statement urging Congress to circumvent the filibuster and pass voting rights legislation in response to Republican attempts to restrict voter access and overturn election results they don’t like.

“This is no ordinary moment in the course of our democracy,” the signees warned in a statement issued Sunday. “It is a moment of great peril and risk.” 

The scholars called on Congress to pass the Freedom to Vote Act, a Senate bill that would strengthen voter protections amid a conservative, antidemocratic onslaught. Republican senators blocked the Senate from even debating the bill last month. Over a dozen Republican-led state legislatures have introduced or passed measures seeking to curb voter access or investigate baseless claims of voter fraud in response to former President Donald Trump's loss to President Joe Biden in the 2020 election.

“The partisan politicization of what has long been trustworthy, non-partisan administration of elections represents a clear and present threat to the future of electoral democracy in the United States,” the scholars wrote.

Photo Illustration: Excerpts from a statement from 150 political science scholars urging the passage of the Freedom to Vote Act
MSNBC / Getty Images

The scholars warned that Republican attacks on democracy would likely result in a prolonged period of minority rule, “which a majority of the country would reject as undemocratic and illegitimate.”

“This would have grave consequences not only for our democracy, but for political order, economic prosperity, and the national security of the United States as well,” they wrote.

White Americans, who comprise a majority of the Republican base, saw their population decline relative to the total population over the last 10 years, according to census data. That was the first time in history. At the same time, several nonwhite ethnic groups that tend to vote for Democrats saw their populations increase. But many Republican-led legislatures, including those in Texas and Georgia, have used population growth driven by nonwhite people in their states to shore up conservative-leaning, predominantly white districts. 

In their statement, the signees pointed to the Lodge Bill, a voting rights bill killed by a filibuster in 1890, as an example of what could happen if Congress refuses to defend voting rights now.  

“The upshot of that critical vote was that southern states, in the absence of any federal supervision, were allowed to pursue the wholesale disenfranchisement of African Americans for the next 75 years,” they wrote.

“Defenders of democracy in America still have a slim window of opportunity to act,” they added. “But time is ticking away, and midnight is approaching.”

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