Sen. Joe Manchin III on Tuesday reaffirmed his opposition to the filibuster explosion after the Supreme Court confirmed that a majority of justices leaned to strike down federal abortion protections.
Mr. Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, said removing the Senate’s 60-vote threshold, as some members of his party have suggested, would be detrimental to democracy.
“The filibuster is the only protection we have for democracy right now,” he said. “I’ve always believed in protecting women’s rights with the filibuster, so you have to think about it, but the bottom line is that we need checks and balances.”
Democrats have renewed calls to end the filibuster so they can push through legislation making abortion rights a US law after the Supreme Court’s draft ruling was leaked to the media.
The Supreme Court confirmed on Tuesday that a majority of justices support Roe’s quashing. The decision would affirm that abortion is not a constitutionally protected right, leaving the issue of abortion to each state to decide.
“If an extremist Supreme Court overturns Roe, wealthy women can still have safe abortions – by traveling to another state or country,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts. “But women of color, those with low incomes and victims of abuse will suffer the most. Congress must eliminate the filibuster and protect Roe.
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Mr. Manchin’s position probably condemns any attempt to reduce the filibuster.
The result is not particularly surprising. Earlier this year, Mr. Manchin and Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona thwarted efforts by fellow Democrats to blast the filibuster to pass a partisan rewrite of the country’s election laws. Both argued that the 60-vote threshold was one of the last safeguards preventing majority rule.
“American politics is cyclical, and the allocation of power in Washington, DC, is swapped regularly by voters from party to party,” Ms. Sinema said. “But what is legislative filibuster other than a tool … that millions of Americans represented by the minority party have a voice in the process.”
With the filibuster in place, Democrats are unlikely to garner enough support for any abortion legislation. This reality was highlighted earlier this year when Mr Manchin, who has sometimes identified himself as pro-life, voted with Republicans to block legislation codifying abortion rights.
At the time, the bill fell short of the 60 votes needed to defeat the filibuster. Even if the filibuster were not in place, the legislation would still have failed in the equally divided Senate due to Mr. Manchin’s opposition.