US President Joe Biden has made an impassioned attack on racist voting laws sweeping America, warning that “the 21st-century Jim Crow assault is real” and demanding of Republicans: “Have you no shame?” But the president faced instant criticism from progressives for failing in his 20-minute speech to mention the filibuster, a Senate procedural rule that has thwarted efforts to safeguard democracy.
Numerous Republican-controlled states have passed new voting restrictions this year, a push encouraged by Biden's Republican predecessor Donald Trump. In a passionate speech in a city considered the nation's birthplace, Biden, without naming him, took aim at Trump and his supporters for false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from the Republican former president through widespread voting fraud. With voting rights under siege from Republican-controlled state legislatures, Biden on Tuesday delivered his most forceful remarks yet on the issue, directly condemning his predecessor Donald Trump’s “big lie” about a stolen election.
He noted that 17 states had enacted 28 laws that make it harder to vote, with 400 bills pending. These are likely to have a disproportionate impact on people of colour. Citing the legalised segregation of America’s past, the president warned: “The 21st-century Jim Crow assault is real, it’s unrelenting, and we’re going to challenge it vigorously.”