Why Marc Morial is ‘damn worried’ about the state of American democracy

The new infrastructure law and the larger budget reconciliation bill that are part of President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda have pushed the issue of voting rights out of the spotlight.

This comes after the Senate blocked debate on a bill named after the late civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis, which would restore key provisions of the Voting Rights Act that have been struck down by the Supreme Court since 2013. Vice President Kamala Harris recently called the right to vote the cornerstone of our democracy. As states across the country enact restrictive voting laws, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer has insisted that voting rights legislation is a priority, even if it means eliminating the filibuster. But it’s unclear whether there’s enough support for taking that step.

Now, civil rights groups have issued a scorecard that rates every senator on their records on voting rights and their willingness to end the filibuster.

One of the organizations behind the move is the National Urban League. CEO Marc Morial recently joined the Equal Time podcast to offer his take on voting rights, democracy and even infrastructure.

A transcript, edited for clarity and brevity:

‘What has come of America?’

Civil rights leader and National Urban League president and CEO Marc Morial says he is “damn worried” about the state of American democracy. Mary C. Curtis sits down with Morial to talk about voting rights, infrastructure, the filibuster and so much more.

‘It’s always urgent when it’s about vote, voice and power’

Climate change, a major concern of this week’s United Nations General Assembly, affects people across the globe through immigration, food production and the economy, to name a few. But as Ashley K. Shelton tells Mary C. Curtis, climate change is also spurring voter suppression. Shelton, who leads the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice and is a founding member of the Black Southern Women’s Collective, is turning her attention to policies that need to be in place to ensure that Americans disproportionately affected by devastating weather events can fully participate in democracy.

Clyburn: Pass voting bills or Democrats will lose majorities

As a young civil rights activist, House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn was involved in protests that led to passage of the Voting Rights Act. Now, the 81-year-old Democrat from South Carolina, whose endorsement is widely credited with helping Joe Biden turn around his bid for the 2020 presidential nomination, says Congress needs to act to stop a new assault on voting.

The House has passed one sweeping bill — dubbed HR 1, or the For the People Act — that sets standards for voting and overhauls campaign finance and ethics law. But an attempt to bring it up was defeated in the Senate. Another measure — dubbed HR 4, or the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act — is being drafted in the House and getting attention in the Senate. Clyburn joined CQ Roll Call’s Equal Time podcast last month to discuss what’s at stake and how he expects it to play out. An edited transcript:

Mary C. Curtis: Calls to Boycott Georgia Over New Voting Law

CHARLOTTE, NC — Growing calls from sports and businesses to boycott Georgia over the state’s new voting law.

Justice groups are urging sports organizations, like the PGA tour and major league baseball, to reconsider holding upcoming major events in the state.

Delta airlines and Coca-Cola, two of Atlanta’s biggest brands, are also facing boycott threats.

WCCB Political Contributor Mary C. Curtis discusses will the effort work.

You can catch Mary C. Curtis on Sunday nights at 6:30 PM on WCCB Charlotte’s CW discussing the biggest issues in local and national politics and also giving us a look at what’s ahead for the week.

You can also check out Mary’s podcast ‘Equal Time.’

Breonna Taylor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the future of our country with Fatima Goss Graves

In this inaugural episode of CQ Roll Call’s Equal Time, Mary C. Curtis reflects on this moment in time, examining the complexity and history of issues dividing the country in 2020. Today’s episode features Fatima Goss Graves, CEO of the National Women’s Law Center, discussing Breonna Taylor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and what is at stake for the courts, our country and women — especially those of color.

Mary C. Curtis: Wisconsin Holds Primary During Pandemic

CHARLOTTE, NC — Despite a global pandemic, people lined up at the polls to cast their votes in Tuesday’s Wisconsin primary.

The state supreme court blocked democratic governor Tony Evers’ bid to delay it until June.

Political contributor Mary C. Curtis weighs in on the election and whether or not it was the right decision.

POLITICAL WRAP: Impeachment Trial; Voter Rights; UK Election

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – After this week’s impeachment vote, debate will continue over a possible Senate trial. Majority leader Mitch McConnell says he’d like it to go quickly. But President Trump has talked about calling witnesses, ranging from Hunter Biden, to the whistleblower, to Congressman Adam Schiff.

Also, this week voting rights are back in the spotlight after a ruling by a circuit court judge in Wisconsin. 234,000 voters, flagged as having possibly moved, will be taken off the registry. The ruling is expected to hurt Democrats in a state President Trump won in 2016.

And in the UK, a landslide victory for Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party. Johnson is promising to “Get Brexit Done,” while President Trump calls the election result a possible “harbinger of what’s to come” in the 202o U.S. election.

Voting rights, a partisan issue? Yes, Republicans have fallen that far

OPINION — Stacey Abrams has it right, for right now. She lost her 2018 race to be the governor of Georgia to Republican Brian Kemp, who as secretary of state was in charge of the election, a situation that would not pass the sniff test in North Korea.

OK, that comparison is a little far-fetched, but only a little.

Since then, though, she’s been plenty busy, confirming that, yes, she would be open to a vice presidential spot on the 2020 Democratic ticket and locking down a network TV deal for a drama based on one of her novels.

Most importantly, though, through her group Fair Fight, she has been fighting for voting rights, an issue that’s bigger than one election and always has been.

Despite the GOP talking point that the impeachment inquiry is crowding out important work, under Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the House has been passing legislation, only to see those bills die in the Senate under the strict command of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Last week, another proposed bill joined the list, with little doubt that it too would meet the same Senate fate. The two parties can’t even agree on what to call it. For Democrats, and officially, it is the Voting Rights Advancement Act. Republicans have dubbed it the “The Federal Control of Elections Act.”

Not too subtle.

One Person, One Vote. Is It That Complicated?

OPINION — I admit that voting is and has always been a celebratory ritual for me, even if the candidate is running unopposed, the office is state agriculture commissioner or my district’s makeup means my one vote won’t make much of a difference.

I watched three older siblings march for civil rights, and I am well aware that many brave folks died protecting my right to cast that ballot. While a little rain or a busy schedule might provide an excuse to “sit this one out,” it’s never enough to outweigh the legacy left by a Medgar Evers, who served his country in World War II and was murdered in front of his Mississippi home for, among other civil rights activity, leading voter registration drives in the country he protected.

Mine is not a controversial stand — in fact, it’s patriotic. You would think our country’s leaders, without regard to party or politics, would be on my side.

You would be wrong.