Press Releases

Family Of John Lewis, National Progressive Groups & Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton Deliver Petition to White House Calling on Biden to Urge Senate to End Filibuster & Pass Voting Rights Legislation

AUGUST 12, 2021

Anushka Sarkar, Stand Up America
[email protected]

400,000 Signers Tell Biden: It’s Time to Support Ending the Filibuster

Voting Rights Advocates to Gather Near White House for Press Conference Following Petition Delivery

WASHINGTON D.C. — Today, Stand Up America, Black Voters Matter, Common Cause, Fix Our Senate, People for the American Way and other voting rights advocates from across the country were joined by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton to deliver a petition to the White House. The petition, which garnered 400,000 signatures from people across the country, calls on President Biden to leverage the power of his office and publicly urge the Senate to end the filibuster and ensure lawmakers can pass crucial legislation protecting our voting rights.

Watch the livestream here.

Today’s petition delivery comes on the heels of Senate Republicans blocking debate over the For The People Act earlier this week, for the second time in as many months. Advocates gathered by the White House to call on President Biden to stand up and use the biggest soapbox in the world to call on the Senate to end the filibuster. The petition is part of Stand Up America’s broader efforts to pressure Democrats—from the Oval Office to Capitol Hill—to end the Jim Crow filibuster. Stand Up America’s efforts also include digital ads calling on President Biden to leverage his office to end the filibuster, and driving almost 70,000 constituent calls to Congress on voting rights and the filibuster to date this year.

Quotes from partners & supporters of today’s petition delivery:

“The Jim Crow filibuster is indefensible, and it is time to end it. There is simply no good reason why a majority vote in the Senate is enough for trillions of dollars in government investment or for a lifetime confirmation to our nation’s highest court, but it’s not enough to protect our freedom to vote,” said Sean Eldridge, President & Founder of Stand Up America. “It’s time to change that. The President of the United States has the largest soap box and the biggest bully pulpit on the planet. We are asking him to use it to end the filibuster and protect our freedom to vote now.”

“I’m proud to be joining Stand Up America at their press conference calling on President Biden to use the full weight of his office to eliminate the filibuster,” Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) said. “Throughout the 20th century, the filibuster has been used first and foremost to block civil rights legislation, and now the threat of the filibuster is being abused today to obstruct D.C. statehood—full local self-government and voting representation in Congress—for residents of the nation’s capital. President Biden, do everything you can to end the filibuster.”

“All these petition signatures represent voters across the political spectrum who want to see Congress pass the ‘For the People Act.’ At the grassroots level, Americans are united behind this bill—with some of its provisions receiving 90 to 95% support from voters. The fact that this legislation has been languishing in the Senate since 2019 says everything about what’s wrong with our country’s politics right now,” said Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn. “Earlier this summer, 50 senators voted to begin debate on the legislation, and the Senate Republicans who filibustered it must not have the final say. Voters across America want our government to represent us—We the People—and not whatever special interest has been holding up this bill for years.”

 “Voting rights are still under attack and that means democracy is at risk for every American. More than a dozen states have passed 30 laws restricting the freedom to vote, but senators in Washington have delayed action in Congress to protect our most sacred privilege,” said President of People For the American Way Ben Jealous. “President Biden should use all the powers of his office to ensure that the Senate takes whatever steps are necessary to overcome the filibuster and pass the For the People Act/S.1. Otherwise, states will not have enough time to implement guidelines and regulations before the 2022 midterm elections and as a result, restrictive laws could keep millions of people from voting. Now is our best chance to seize the moment and demand a democracy where people shape our nation’s government, not dark money PACs and wealthy corporations.”

“We can maintain the filibuster untouched or we can protect our democracy. That’s the simple choice the nation now faces—and it’s no choice at all. America needs President Biden to use his voice and power, now, to ensure the Senate finds a workaround to the filibuster so it can pass the For the People Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and other democracy reforms,” said Robert Weissman, President of Public Citizen. “President Biden, with the country on the brink of a true democracy crisis, we need your leadership now.”

“President Biden told Black voters that we’ve always had his back and that he’d have ours. Now is the time to prove it,” said Cliff Albright, co-founder and executive director of Black Voters Matter. “He must use the full force of his bully pulpit to protect our voting rights, and those of other voters who are under attack. And this includes sending an unequivocal message to Senate Majority Leader Schumer and the rest of the Senate Democrats that they must pass voting rights legislation immediately—even if it means eliminating the Senate filibuster altogether.”

“We’re in a five alarm fire with the widespread attacks from Republicans on our right to vote and hold free and fair elections. Tens of thousands of MoveOn members are demanding President Biden use all his power to end the racist Jim Crow filibuster to pass the For the People Act to stop the GOP from rigging the rules in their favor,” said Emma Einhorn, Campaign Director at MoveOn. “The right to vote, the cornerstone of our democracy, should not be subject to Mitch McConnell’s political obstruction. There is no time to lose, and nothing less than our democracy is at stake.”

“Our nation—already in a state of upheaval—continues to be seriously threatened by the Jim Crow-era filibuster and other voter suppression tactics tearing at the fabric of our democracy. Republicans’ flagrant use of the filibuster is not just an impediment to progress—it is silencing our collective voice and holding us hostage to this rogue governing party,” said Jennifer Epps-Addison, Co-Executive Director at the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) Action. “We deserve a government that represents Black, Brown, Indigenous, and all other communities equally and cannot allow our democracy to further unravel because of this outdated tool. President Biden must take action to ensure the filibuster is finally eliminated in order to protect our rights, safeguard our freedoms, and show this democracy belongs to the people.” 

“In many states across the country our democracy is under attack. Republicans in the US Senate are protecting the Governors and state legislators undermining the right to vote by using the Jim Crow Filibuster to block federal legislation that would roll back the most harmful restrictions in new voter suppression laws,” said Scott Roberts, Senior Director of Criminal Justice and Democracy Campaigns at Color of Change. “Black people cannot afford to wait for a supermajority of senators to agree on key pieces of legislation, and Senate Republicans should not be allowed to stand in the way of important voting rights protections. That’s why tens of thousands of Color of Change members have called on their Senators to reform the Jim Crow Filibuster and protect our democracy from these racist attacks.”

“Indivisibles all across the country have been looking for him to join us in this fight. They have always understood the threat the opposing party represents to our democracy. They understood this threat during Trump’s presidency. That’s why they worked throughout the pandemic to organize mail-in voting,” said Ezra Levin, Co-Executive Director of Indivisible Project. “They showed up in November and delivered Biden the White House. But we have yet to see Biden match their commitment to protecting our democracy and ending the blatant obstructionism from the Republican party. Instead, he’s continued to embrace them in hopes of passing watered down versions of his agenda while ignoring the calls of those who helped put him in the White House.”

“Every single moment of progress in our country’s civil rights movement has been met with resistance and required Americans to rise up to demand change,” said Jana Morgan, director of Declaration for American Democracy. “Just as we rose up to vote in record numbers despite a pandemic last year, we will be raising our voices louder and louder. The filibuster rule is a relic of the Jim Crow era. It was designed and used for decades to thwart civil rights legislation, including blocking critical protections for voting rights and anti-lynching legislation. Senate Democrats and President Biden must let nothing stand in their way of protecting our freedom to vote and ensuring fair elections.”

“In the last year, we’ve seen a full-scale assault on the democratic process—from propagation of the Big Lie, to the physical siege of the US Capitol, to an unrelenting barrage of state-level legislation intended to strip Americans of the freedom to vote and—in some cases—even hand politicians the power to overturn the will of the people if the vote doesn’t go their way. Activists across the country are working around the clock to ensure that these incursions on our freedom to vote are stopped,” said Nick Knudsen, Executive Director of DemCast. “But the clock is ticking, and time is running out. The U.S. Senate is in a uniquely powerful position to protect the American people by passing the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would go a long way to restoring our freedoms. We now ask that President Biden hear our call and lead. Do whatever is necessary to get voting rights legislation passed. The filibuster cannot allow millions of Americans to lose their freedom to vote.”

President Biden faces a choice – clearer than ever before: Will he jump into this fight to address what he called ‘the worst challenge to our democracy since the Civil War’ or will he continue standing on the sidelines and protect the ‘Jim Crow’ filibuster,” said Eli Zupnick, Spokesperson for Fix Our Senate. “He can’t have it both ways. It’s the filibuster or our democracy—only one will be left standing strong.”

“Each day that goes by without federal action in defense of our democracy is another opportunity for partisan legislators to limit our freedom to vote,” said Stephanie Gómez, Associate Director of Common Cause Texas. “We are in a critical moment in Texas and across our country where we have the opportunity to work towards a democracy that includes all of us. We urge President Biden to follow the lead of Texas’ pro-voter legislators who left the state to block voter suppression bills in the Texas State House and do whatever it takes to ensure we pass the For the People Act without delay.”

“In Philadelphia, President Biden said that our democracy faces its greatest challenge since the Civil War. Now, his actions must be commensurate with his words,” said Adam Smith, Strategic Partnerships Director for End Citizens United. “He must use the power of his office, and the relationships he has forged as a former Senator, to call for a reform of the filibuster to protect our sacred right to vote. Too much is at stake for anything less.”

“We must take action to protect and expand our democracy and ensure that every American has an equal voice and an equal vote,” said Alexandra Flores-Quilty, Campaign Director at Free Speech For People. “President Biden must take action to end the filibuster, a relic of the Jim Crow era, and pass the For The People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act in the Senate.”

“In normal times, I wouldn’t have considered ending the filibuster because I’ve always believed that it’s important for everyone to have their voices heard. Unfortunately, we are not in normal times and a handful of Senators have exploited their power and the use of the filibuster. Republican Senators have shown us that they are more concerned with obtaining power for their personal interest than improving the lives of their constituents and their communities,” said Maria Reynoso, Deputy Director, Blue Future. “It’s safe to say that no matter what we look like or who we vote for, most of us believe that our elected leaders should deliver for us. Right now, we are at a turning point where elected officials are choosing personal power over the interest of the nation. By ending the filibuster, we can have accessible voting rights for all, ensure affordable healthcare and education, protect the rights of those most denied, and much more! Our leaders must exercise their majority, eliminate the filibuster, and pass laws that protect our lives, our rights and our freedoms.”

“Americans made their voices clearly heard this past election cycle. Yet Republican senators are now using the filibuster as a cudgel to retain power, bending our government and policy to the will of the minority party. Not only is this fundamentally undemocratic, but it is also especially harmful to communities of color,” said Dorothy He, Associate Communications Director for Daily Kos. “We cannot stand idle as these elected officials shamelessly cling to a parliamentary gimmick in an attempt to silence us. It is time to end the filibuster and ensure that all Americans can live with dignity.”

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About Stand Up America
Stand Up America is a progressive advocacy organization with over two million community members across the country. Focused on grassroots advocacy to stand up to corruption and voter suppression and build a more representative democracy, Stand Up America has driven over 1.4 million calls to lawmakers, registered tens of thousands of voters, mobilized thousands of protestors, and contacted tens of millions of voters.

Twitter: @StandUpAmerica
Instagram: @StandUp_America
Facebook: @StandUpAmerica