Opinion

Voting Rights Bill Dead, Filibuster Alive

More from our inbox:

  • A ‘Welcome’ Supreme Court Ruling on the Jan. 6 Records
  • Biden’s Bad Messaging on Ukraine
  • Medicare Should Cover At-Home Covid Tests
  • American Selflessness, and the Covid Exception

  Credit…Jason Andrew for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “After Fiery Debate, Voting Bill Dies in the Senate” (front page, Jan. 20):

“I just don’t know how you break a rule to make a rule,” Senator Joe Manchin said on Tuesday, expressing reluctance to kill the filibuster and pass the voting rights bill he supports.

To paraphrase the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous discussion of just and unjust laws in his “Letter From Birmingham Jail”: There are just rules, and there are unjust rules.

The filibuster is an unjust rule with a long history as a weapon of racist oppression. Strom Thurmond’s infamous filibuster of the Civil Rights Act of 1957 was no outlier. From the 1890s to the 1960s, several voting rights and civil rights bills were killed by filibuster in the Senate.

Today, Americans’ voting rights are again in danger from unjust rules. The G.O.P. has spent the last year passing voting restrictions by the dozen and further gerrymandering House districts to enable minority rule. And since the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013, all of it is legal — though none of it is just.

The Senate must act to protect voting rights by killing the filibuster. When an unjust rule stands in the way of justice, it is a moral imperative to break that rule.

Cory Derringer
Swissvale, Pa.

To the Editor:

Re “How Did Democrats Let This Happen?,” by Bishop Reginald T. Jackson (Opinion guest essay, Jan. 17):

The Democrats voted to pass voting rights legislation, but not a single Republican was in favor. Furthermore, throughout the country, Republicans are leading the effort to block people from voting.

The hardheaded obstructionist actions by Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are a problem, but even they support the legislation. They are waiting for 10 Republicans to join them.

In what way are President Biden and the Democrats responsible for this failure? And why is Bishop Jackson calling them out, instead of placing the blame where it belongs?

Barbara Barran
Brooklyn

To the Editor:

Re “Democrats Face Costly New Slog on Voting Curbs” (front page, Jan. 16):

These new voting regulations are not intended to curtail genuine voter access or suppress voting rights. They are meant to restrain casual, uninformed voting and prevent political activists from harvesting other people’s votes.

Voting is supposed to be serious and to reflect the national will at a given point in time. It’s not supposed to be “easy” or incidental or absentee for no reason. It’s not a fall sale stretched out over a month. Lax regulations have distorted the very concept and process of voting in order to manipulate elections.

Richard Sybert
Seattle

To the Editor:

Charles M. Blow (column, Jan. 17) sounded a crucial alarm, especially when he pointed out that the voter suppression legislation being pushed by many in the G.O.P. is only the opening salvo in such efforts, and that President Biden has been very late to the game in this regard. But why is that?

It seems to trace back to two phenomena: Mr. Biden’s almost delusional belief that he could pass important legislation on a bipartisan basis on the strength of his personality thanks to his past congressional relationships, and a failure to prioritize what the country most needs.

How else to explain why he spent so much effort on the unsuccessful Build Back Better legislative push when the fate of our democracy was hanging in the balance? Assuring that the vote is as sacrosanct as possible should have been the priority; it wasn’t.

Roy Christianson
Madison, Wis.

A ‘Welcome’ Supreme Court Ruling on the Jan. 6 Records

Former President Donald J. Trump has said he has a constitutional right to shield some White House records from Congress even though President Biden declined to invoke executive privilege over them.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Justices Rebuff Trump’s Request on Jan. 6 Records” (front page, Jan. 20):

What welcome news, in a world of unwelcome news.

Perhaps now, with the Supreme Court favoring the requests of the House committee investigating Jan. 6, we will finally know the truth of what went on in the minds of Donald Trump and his allies, what messages they sent each other and what plans they had to subvert the will of the American people.

There has perhaps never been a time when “full disclosure” has had more significance. Once the truth is out, once the American people will learn how close our nation came to the overthrow of our fragile democracy, perhaps then Mr. Trump’s reign will be rebuffed for good.

Doris Fenig
Boca Raton, Fla.

To the Editor:

Whatever else may ail the United States, we may rejoice that our Supreme Court still behaves as intended, as an independent judiciary with allegiance to no president.

We may complain about justices’ conservatism or that personally held beliefs may predispose their rulings, but their rectitude is what is most important of all for our country. They are free of corruption and dedicated to the rule of law.

William Goldman
Palos Verdes Estates, Calif.

Biden’s Bad Messaging on Ukraine

President Biden’s comments went well beyond the current intelligence assessments described by White House officials.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Biden Expects Putin to Order Ukraine Attack” (front page, Jan. 20):

Although I am a supporter of President Biden, I was incredulous when I read that headline. At a time when the president needs to appear adamantly and resolutely opposed to such Russian aggression, it makes him seem weak and resigned to the idea.

That may not be what he intended, but that is the way it will be interpreted by many, including our allies in Ukraine, unfortunately.

Chase Webb
Portland, Ore.

Medicare Should Cover At-Home Covid Tests

People with private insurance will be able to order test kits through their insurer, or buy them and submit a claim for reimbursement. Credit…Saul Martinez for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Private Insurers Must Cover Eight At-Home Covid Tests Each Month, the U.S. Says” (news article, Jan. 11):

It was heartening to hear that the Biden administration was requiring insurance companies to cover the cost of at-home Covid test kits purchased by private individuals. However, Medicare will not be covering these costs.

It seems almost beyond belief that the administration is ordering reimbursement for families and adults with private medical insurance, while excluding much of the elderly population, which is most susceptible to complications from Covid.

Don Hillel
New York
The writer is a retired physician.

American Selflessness, and the Covid Exception

To the Editor:

The weather tragedies in the Midwest last month once again demonstrated Americans’ sense of shared responsibility and concern. Rescuers dug through rubble to find potential survivors; neighbors opened their houses to shelter one another when the tornadoes touched down.

This is an enduring part of America’s mythos — we do what we can to help those in need, whether filling sandbags in a rainstorm or venturing out in boats during a squall, putting our own lives in danger to assist others.

This selflessness makes all the more paradoxical the refusal by many Americans to vaccinate themselves and perform other common-sense acts to protect one another from Covid-19.

If your neighbor’s house were on fire would you hesitate to use your hose to put out the fire? If your neighbor’s child were in the path of a runaway truck would you hesitate to rush into the street to save that child? Doesn’t Covid-19 present just such a risk?

Larry Westerman
Portland, Ore.

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