How much do your senators care about voter suppression? How committed are they to our most sacred constitutional right? What have they done, and what are they willing to do to defend it?
The answer for Missouri, according to the inaugural National Urban League Civil Rights Scorecard, is retiring Sen. Roy Blunt and Sen. Josh Hawley could care less.
Both Republicans earned an F grade, scoring zero points for not supporting the American Rescue Plan Act, the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and the For the People Act, and their stance on the filibuster, a once-rare procedure now weaponized to block major legislation, including voting rights protection bills.
The National Urban League and the NAACP, National Action Network, National Coalition of Black Civic Participation, Fighting for Our Vote Initiative, and National Council of Negro Women released the scorecard this week. It provides civil rights advocates and their supporters with clear insights into the voting patterns of their Senate delegations.
There is no greater crisis facing our nation at this moment than the preservation of democracy. History will judge every member of the Senate on their commitment to democratic principles. The Civil Rights Scorecard is not just a measure of each Senator's voting record. It is a measure of their character, their integrity, and their patriotism.
As the Scorecard notes, “the divide between the 51st and 60th vote in the Senate is unbridgeable with the Senate split along partisan lines.”
Senators were awarded one point for each “yes” vote on the three bills and zero points for a “no” vote, abstention or not voting.
Their stance on the filibuster, which comprised 50% percent of their overall score – was worth three points for abolishing the filibuster, two for reforming it, one for willingness to change it, and zero for retaining the filibuster as it currently exists.
Senators with a score of 2.1 to 3 earned an “A” grade; those with a score of 1 to 2 earned an “I” for “incomplete,” and those with a score of 0.9 or lower earned an “F.”
The Scorecard focused on voting rights because every other right stems directly from it. Without the right to vote, we have no say. No voice. No seat at the table to determine public policy on policing, education, or economic equity.
“A law is unjust if it is inflicted on a minority that, as a result of being denied the right to vote, had no part in enacting or devising the law,” Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in Letter from a Birmingham Jail.
Stacey Abrams expounded on this reality in her essay, “Our Time Is Now: Power, Purpose, and the Fight for a Fair America.”
“As millions are stripped of their rights, we live out the policy consequences, from lethal pollution running through poor communities to kindergartners practicing active shooter drills taught with nursery rhymes,” she wrote.
Our democracy is cracking at the seams. It is crumbling before our eyes. The Scorecard is a clanging alarm, alerting every member of the United States Senate that we expect them honor their Constitutional duty and to do everything in their power to protect democracy, including abolishing or reforming the filibuster.
Marc Morial is president and CEO of the National Urban League