19 Apr 2005 Project 21 Press Release: Black Activists Criticize NAACP for Filibuster Flip-Flop; Civil Rights Group Now Supports Senate Tactic That Hobbled Civil Rights Legislation
Members of the black leadership organization Project 21 are criticizing the NAACP for endorsing filibusters against Bush Administration judicial nominees, calling the NAACP endorsement contradictory to the group’s past position, when filibusters halted the progress of civil rights bills.
“For decades, the NAACP was vehemently against filibusters because they were employed to oppose and counter civil rights legislation. But the NAACP has now switched position,” notes Project 21 member Michael King. “NAACP head Julian Bond has aggressively made verbal attacks on the Bush Administration. Though Bond and the NAACP leadership vociferously deny charges of partisanship, Bond’s actions and the silence of the membership implies that partisanship is the order of the day. By virtue of its actions, the NAACP has forfeited any opportunity to provide a reasonable voice to this discussion.”
Current filibuster rules require the votes of 60 or more senators to bring something up for consideration on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Then only a simple majority is needed for passage or confirmation. During President Bush’s first term, Senate liberals employed prolonged filibusters against appeals court nominees for the first time ever. Senate leaders are assessing a rule change – dubbed the “nuclear option” by its opponents – to reduce the number of votes needed to schedule a floor vote as a filibuster progresses.
In a March 16 “Action Alert,” NAACP Washington Bureau director Hilary O. Shelton called the filibuster “a respected method of ensuring that the most ardent concerns of the minority party… were taken into consideration” and an “accepted parliamentary maneuver.” The alert suggests people contact senators to support retaining the existing Senate rules.
Between the 1930s and 1960s, the NAACP was outspoken against filibusters. For example, anti-lynching legislation was never enacted despite three popular bills because of filibusters. The NAACP’s fair employment proposal suffered a similar fate. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was unsuccessfully filibustered.
“While the NAACP has filled its coffers and built a reputation fighting the presentation of the Confederate Battle Flag, they are now celebrating a tactic used by former Confederates and segregationists to impede the fight for civil rights,” said Project 21 member Kevin Martin. “The black community should be alarmed that the NAACP now supports the same filibuster that kept lynchings legal.”
Project 21 takes no position on the confirmation of any particular judicial nominee, but believes that it is in the best interest of the United States that judicial vacancies be filled with appropriate speed.
Project 21, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization, has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 x11 or [email protected], or visit Project 21’s website at http://www.project21.org/P21Index.html.