Mitch McConnell has been adamant in his attempts to preserve the filibuster, one of the most impact rules of the Senate. First he threatened a “nuclear winter” of obstructionist tactics in the chamber if the Democrats tried to eliminate the filibuster. On Tuesday, he dismissed claims that the maneuver had been used in any sort of racist manner in the past.
McConnell may want to brush up on his history, because the filibuster has a long list of examples which would prove the Senate Minority Leader dead wrong.
Sarah Binder, a professor of political science at George Washington University, outlined several examples in her breakdown of the filibuster’s history. Binder and Steven Smith co-authored the book, “Politics or Principle? Filibustering in the U.S. Senate.” In their research, they found that of 40 filibusters that happened between 1837 and 1917 (when the cloture rule was established), at least ten filibusters targeted racial issues.
Those issues included fights over statehood for California and Kansas and protecting the voting rights of Blacks in the South following the Civil War.
20th century filibusters were even more focused on civil rights.
“Of the 30 measures we identified between 1917 and 1994, exactly half addressed civil rights — including measures to authorize federal investigation and prosecution of lynching, to ban the imposition of poll taxes and to prohibit discrimination on the basis of race in housing sales and rentals.”
You don’t even need to be much of a history buff to find a recent example that proves McConnell is way off the mark. Just last year, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul roadblocked a bill that would have made lynching a federal hate crime.
Of course, it’s quite likely McConnell knows this. But it seems he has no problem saying something he knows to be untrue, as long as it is politically suitable.