Category Archives: Voting and Democracy

Judge Jackson’s Nomination Soon to Move to the Senate Floor

Judge Jackson’s Nomination Soon to Move to the Senate Floor

Julia Morris
April 1, 2022

Next Monday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote  on whether to send the Honorable Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination for the Supreme Court to the Senate floor. This will likely split the committee in a party line vote, but not necessarily derail the prospect for a final confirmation vote later next week. The particular day for confirmation depends on how much Republicans want to obstruct before leaving town.

Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) publicly expressed her support for nominating Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. In her statement Sen. Collins expressed her concern with the manner in which these hearings have proceeded saying, “In my view, the role the Constitution clearly assigns to the Senate is to examine the experience, qualifications, and integrity of the nominee … [I]t is not to assess whether a nominee reflects the ideology of an individual Senator or would rule exactly as an individual Senator would want.” Sen. Collins’ support means Vice President Kamala Harris will not have to break a 50-50 tie for the nomination.

At NETWORK, we urge the Senate to confirm her nomination with all deliberate speed. As our Executive Director Mary Novak stated:

“In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus proclaims a new law of love known as the Beatitudes. He said: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice. We the People are hungering for justice. We need our political and judicial systems to live up to the vision of ‘right relationship’ where every person’s sacred worth is respected. On behalf of NETWORK’s 100,000 members and supporters, I express our strong support for the swift and historic confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the United States Supreme Court.

“Judge Jackson’s service as a federal public defender, the first defender nominated since Justice Thurgood Marshall, means she experienced firsthand the way our criminal legal system works for some but not all of us. This unique experience will allow her to bring a commitment to equal justice for all, grounded in human dignity to the Court.”

Join us in celebrating this occasion. Call 888-897-9753 to urge both of your Senators to Confirm the Honorable, and extremely qualified, Ketanji Brown Jackson!

President Biden in front of a microphone

Centering Solidarity and Healing for Our Democracy

Centering Solidarity and Healing for Our Democracy

A Response to President Biden’s 2022 State of the Union
Mary J. Novak
March 3, 2022

President Biden in front of a microphoneIn his 2022 State of the Union, President Joe Biden addressed people across the country who are anxious and weary as Vladimir Putin threatens the use of nuclear force in his quest for more power and the COVID-19 pandemic continues to shatter a sense of normalcy, claiming close to one million lives in this country alone. President Biden named the pain felt by families and recommitted himself to supporting policies that benefit all families and communities. This vision is grounded in his faith, which prioritizes community and solidarity over individualism and greed. He illuminated a path forward for our national community, marked by dismantling long-standing racist policies and building both a vibrant economy that prioritizes shared prosperity and a truly representative, multi-racial democracy.

Shaping an Economy Rooted in Solidarity

In this time of increasing economic stratification, President Biden spoke forcefully about the need to reorient our economy with a new economic vision built on respecting and protecting the rights of workers and putting people over profits. Given rising costs facing families, his statement: “Capitalism without competition isn’t capitalism. It’s exploitation” likely resonated with many listeners. We know that ensuring jobs pay a living wage is one of the most effective ways we can uphold the dignity of work. I appreciated hearing the President’s call to raise the minimum wage and for the Senate to pass the PRO Act to protect workers’ right to unionize.

Building Anew and Protecting the Sacred Right to Vote

President Biden’s commitments to advancing just policies in NETWORK’s Build Anew policy areas are deeply rooted in the faith values of solidarity, community, respecting the rights of workers, and caring for creation; they include strengthening our democracy and voting rights; making our tax code more just; and, investing in communities by expanding the Child Tax Credit, affordable housing, and healthcare for all. NETWORK strongly supports these efforts to build a more justice union and looks forward to partnering with the Biden administration to achieve these goals. Together, we still have a great amount of work to be done, including passing the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, but we know it is possible by working together.

Confirming a New Supreme Court Justice

Another important step for protecting the rights of everyone in our county will be the Senate voting to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Biden’s nominee to the Supreme Court Justice. The NETWORK community celebrates Judge Jackson’s nomination and the perspective she will bring to the highest court because of her years of service on the federal district court of D.C. and D.C. Circuit as well as her formative service as a public defender.

Defending the Lives of Immigrants and Asylum Seekers

While we commend President Biden clear commitments to advancing just policies for our economy and democracy, we continue to call on the President to be bold in his defense of asylum seekers at our nation’s Southern border. The President was mindful in his speech about the importance of welcoming refugees fleeing Ukraine. Likewise, we call on the President to meet that mission here. Pope Francis has said each person seeking refuge “has a name, a face and a story, as well as an inalienable right to live in peace and to aspire to a better future.” We ask President Biden to take heed of those words and end the cruel and unjust policies that he is perpetuating at the border, and end detention and deportation.

President Biden, our nation’s second Catholic President, often credits the Jesuits and Catholic Sisters with keeping his faith strong. The vision he laid out in his State of the Union reflects a roadmap to rebuilding solidarity, based in encounter. As President Biden said “We can’t change how divided we’ve been. But we can change how we move forward—on COVID-19 and other issues we must face together.”  If we want to rebuild the soul of the nation, we must rebuild it together, with a broad embrace of our human family.

Celebrating a Black Woman Supreme Court Justice – A Justice for Our Times

Celebrating a Black Woman Supreme Court Justice – A Justice for Our Times

NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, the National Black Sisters Conference, and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious
February 23, 2022

As Catholic women, rooted in our faith’s call to love one another and see God in every person, we strongly support the Biden administration’s promise to nominate a Black woman to the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, is the final arbiter on the most consequential legal issues governing our country and our society. The Supreme Court decides issues of law ranging from immigration to our criminal legal system, civil rights to healthcare. For that reason, it is imperative that the Court reflect the diversity of our country in order to act in a fully informed, deliberate way and arrive at sound decisions. In light of the renewed attacks on voting rights and racial progress we see today, it is even more critical to nominate a Justice who is committed to upholding the rule of law and the Constitution for this generation and the generations to come.

We also applaud the number of incredibly qualified Black women from different legal backgrounds who are ready to serve on the Supreme Court. The three most often cited potential nominees – Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, Justice Leondra Kruger, and Judge J. Michelle Childs – are all highly qualified to serve on the Supreme Court. Each of these judges has both the background and judicial record to make them eminently qualified to join the other justices on the Court. Moreover, Supreme Court justices should possess good judgment, keen analytical skills, flexibility, and the ability to relate to the lives of everyday people and families in the United States – all people and families in the United States. Any of the potential nominees under consideration from the Biden administration would bring this combination of skills and experience to the Court.

We vigorously reject the comments of those who have already questioned the future nominee’s qualifications as racist and sexist. We must name and reject the racist and sexist narratives at play in this explicit and outright dismissal of the nominee’s qualifications before her name and record have even been made public. No such comments were heard when Presidents Reagan and Trump announced their intentions to appoint a woman to the Supreme Court and followed through on that promise. Clearly, the only conclusion that can be drawn about these current comments is that the objection is about the race of the potential nominees – hardly a valid reason to reject them.

This historic appointment will contribute to making the Supreme Court more representative of the people of the United States – all of the people.  Of the 115 justices on the Supreme Court since its creation in 1789, 108 have been white men, including five of the nine currently serving, and none have been Black women. Increasing the Supreme Court’s racial diversity and expanding the professional backgrounds of the justices will improve decision-making on the bench and increase public trust in our courts. We the People encourage and support President Biden in his choice.

In this moment, the signs of the times cry out for us to build the beloved community here on Earth. Every person, no matter their race, origin, religion, or immigration status, has God-given dignity and deserves to be heard at the ballot box and respected in their home, workplace, and community. In faith, we will keep working to create a truly representative and inclusive multi-racial democracy.

Witness of John Lewis Rallies People of Faith on Voting Rights

Witness of John Lewis Rallies People of Faith on Voting Rights

Congresswoman Barbara Lee
February 1, 2022

This summer will mark two years since the death of Congressman John Lewis. But as we in the House watch the Senate’s failure to advance the voting rights measure that bears his name, the truth is that we are on the brink of losing so much more than Lewis himself: the monumental legacy and instructions to each of us that he left behind.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1998 and represents California’s 13th district.

John Lewis was a person of deep faith. From being drawn into the Civil Rights movement as a young man by the witness of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King to his leading annual pilgrimages to the Deep South for members of Congress, he saw Civil Rights through the lens of the values of his deeply-held Baptist faith and as a natural outgrowth of it.

When Lewis – then 25 – was beaten by Alabama state troopers while taking part in the March 7, 1965 march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, he had two books in his knapsack. One of them was the autobiography of Thomas Merton, the influential Trappist monk and author. In his 2015 address to Congress, Pope Francis named Merton, along with Dorothy Day, Abraham Lincoln, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as “Great Americans” to emulate.

The implications are clear. The struggle for racial justice, and especially the struggle for voting rights, is one that people from all backgrounds, whether Catholic or Protestant, religious or secular, regard as integral to human life and dignity. There is a sacred quality to such a right, as John Lewis often reminded us, and people of goodwill have a moral responsibility to ensure that public policy enshrines these rights and builds up the common good.

That is why it was a blow to the legacy of John Lewis, Dr. King, and civil rights overall when the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the 1965 Voting Rights Act in their 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision. In her scathing dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg – another giant we sorely miss today – noted that eliminating the effective voting rights protections of that law was “like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.”

That storm has intensified into a gale that has wrought destruction on democracy in 19 states, as GOP-controlled legislatures have enacted brazen new restrictions on voting. These measures have already been shown to disproportionately disenfranchise Black and Brown voters and, unless rectified by federal law, will silence the voices of countless people in future elections. John Lewis would not be surprised, but he would also be resolved.

The time during which I had the honor to serve with John Lewis in the House remain a treasured gift. His legacy and his wisdom guided me then, and we should heed his witness now and draw on it for courage and strength. He reminds us of the importance of the rule of law and the essential participatory nature of democracy. I’ve gone on several civil rights pilgrimages to Selma, Montgomery, and Birmingham with young people from the Martin Luther King Freedom Center in my district in Oakland, California. Congressman Lewis spent time with them and encouraged and inspired them to participate in civic engagement and make “good trouble.”

We are free not to get involved, should we so choose. But that decision carries a heavy cost. John Lewis got involved, courageously pursued justice, and paid the price with his blood and his freedom. His struggle for voting rights was bruising, one that left a mark. John Lewis bore those marks on his body and his ensuing 34 years of service in Congress were a witness to his values. Now, we are all called to honor his legacy and protect voting rights to ensure his struggle was not in vain.

Barbara Lee has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1998 and represents California’s 13th district.

Our Voting Rights Encounter: Sisters’ Prophetic Role in Ensuring the Health of Democracy

Our Voting Rights Encounter: Sisters’ Prophetic Role in Ensuring the Health of Democracy

Sr. Karen Berry, OSF
January 19, 2022

I have never felt that being a member of a Franciscan community and being a citizen of the U.S. were separate things. For instance, I have been working at polling places on election days for the past 21 years. But it was only in November of 2020 that I have ever experienced anger and hostility and mistrust of the voting procedures. I have very real fears for the future of our democracy.

My activism in seeking the passage of a voting rights bill is one more way I am trying to take a stand for equality, dignity, and fairness, and I am so proud that thousands of women religious around the country are in solidarity with this issue.

Being an introvert by nature, it isn’t comfortable for me to engage in the public square. However, I have learned that when values I hold deeply are being threatened, or when my country or my church are being less that I know they can be, I am willing to stand up, to speak, to write, to commit to whatever it takes to nudge civic and religious institutions in the direction of values Jesus and other religious leaders taught and lived.

Last summer, NETWORK reached out to Sisters around the country, asking them to sign a letter addressed to President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. The letter requested swift passage of the For the People Act to secure voting rights for all Americans. Over 3,600 Sisters signed it, and it was delivered in Washington on July 26. At that time, NETWORK also asked if I would be able to gather a representative group of Sisters in Tucson to present a copy of this letter, with all of its signatures, to our U.S. Senators’ offices in Tucson.

The Tucson Sisters who accompanied me were Franciscan Sisters Joneen Keuler (Wisconsin) and Carolyn Nicolai (New York), and Sr. Eileen Mahoney of the Congregation of St. Agnes from Wisconsin. All are longtime residents of Tucson, ministering in a variety of roles.

Sr. Joneen Kueler, OSF, Sr. Karen Berry, OSF, Sr. Carolyn Nicolai, OSF, and Sr. Eileen
Mahoney, CSA, meet with Ron Barber of Senator Mark Kelly’s office on August 6, 2021, to voice their support for voting rights legislation. Courtesy photo

We chose Friday, August 6, as our delivery date, not only because it was the 56th anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act, which has been weakened through the federal courts and still faces attacks today, but also because it is the feast of the Transfiguration. We also knew that on that Friday morning we would be in solidarity with Sisters from West Virginia who were delivering the letter to the office of Senator Joe Manchin.

We were able to secure a time with the staff of Senator Mark Kelly, but Senator Sinema’s staff was unable to meet with us. Ron Barber, former Congressman and now a staff member for Senator Kelly, agreed to represent the Senator to receive the letter from us. Ron, a Catholic, had been seriously wounded along with Congresswoman Gabby Giffords — Senator Kelly’s wife — when they were shot in Tucson during a “meet your Congresswoman” event in 2011.

When we presented the letter, we offered a blessing prayer, and all in attendance joined in. I remember the warm welcome and the enthusiastic response when we asked the staff to join us in prayer. I felt profoundly moved by the sense of being unified with members of religious communities all across our country and also moved by the dedicated political staff praying with us.

We were deeply motivated to encourage the passing of a bill so greatly needed.

The letter stated: “Every voice and every vote is sacred.” It affirmed the need for the reforms written into the bill, stating, “The ‘For the People Act’ protects the vote from attacks and from those who seek to suppress it.” It has been disappointing that the For the People Act didn’t pass. We still have hope that its successor, the Freedom to Vote Act, will pass soon.

Religious communities have an important prophetic role in our world today. Just as the prophets of the past challenged religious leaders and kings, so members of religious communities today are called to awaken the consciences of the people in our church and in our nation.

Sr. Karen Berry, OSF is a Sister of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate. She lives in Tucson, Arizona.

Christians Should Honor Dr. King With United Witness on Voting Rights

Christians Should Honor Dr. King With United Witness on Voting Rights

Minister Christian Watkins
January 17, 2022

With Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s son calling for “No celebration without legislation,” the milestone of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day resonates differently this year. Never in recent memory have voting rights been so hotly at the center of our country’s policy debate. The Senate has a historic opportunity to restore our democracy and protect our right to vote by passing the Freedom to Vote Act, and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which have now been combined into one bill, H.R.5746. We need immediate action to protect our democracy.

In his 1957 speech “Give Us the Ballot,” Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called the denial of the sacred right to vote “a tragic betrayal of the highest mandates of our democratic tradition.” With the passage of 34 laws restricting access to voting in 19 states across the country last year, this tragic betrayal is becoming a reality.

In the Senate, the filibuster has been used to block popular bills to stop lynching, end poll taxes, and fight workplace discrimination. The weaponization of the filibuster is racism cloaked in procedure. Now, this Jim Crow-relic is being used to block crucial voting rights protections. Today, Dr. King’s family is joining with faith leaders, civil rights leaders, and voting rights advocates to call on the Senate to end the filibuster and deliver on legislation that protects the right to vote.

This is a crucial moment for people of faith to come together around this issue, and it couldn’t be more apt. January 18-25 is the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, an annual observance among Christians who want to see their collective witness in the world live up to the prayer of Jesus in John’s Gospel, “that they all may be one” (John 17:21). For over a century, this has primarily taken the form of theologians gathering to dialogue about issues that divide one church denomination from another — and in many cases finding commonalities and ways to bridge these divides.

But equally important is the pursuit Christian unity through what some call a “dialogue of service,” a shared witness to build up the common good. The commitment to upholding human dignity through the right to vote – and, , the election of leaders who will enact policies that build up the common good as Dr. King rightly pointed out – is something that should draw Christians across denominational lines very close together. Indeed, simply collaborating with my coworkers at NETWORK finds me, a United Methodist, working alongside a Catholic Sister and Presbyterian organizer to push Congress to protect the right to vote.

Now is the time to pass the H.R. 5746, the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act, a transformative piece of legislation that sets national standards to increase access to the ballot box, neutralizes partisan and racial gerrymandering, protects our elections from interference, increases transparency in campaign finance to prevent dark money from buying our politicians, and more. Unfortunately, this bill is at risk of being blocked by the filibuster. These anti-democratic efforts cannot be allowed to sabotage passage of robust voting rights legislation.

NETWORK and 3,500 Catholic Sisters Call for Immediate Action on Voting Rights

NETWORK and 3,500 Catholic Sisters Call for Immediate Action on Voting Rights

Sr. Quincy Howard, OP
January 13, 2022

Today, NETWORK Executive Director Mary J. Novak, Deputy Executive Director Joan F. Neal, Government Relations Advocate Minister Christian Watkins, and I sent an urgent letter to all members of the U.S. Senate calling on them to support the passage of H.R. 5746, the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act.

This message to the Senate follows the House’s 220 – 203 vote to send the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act to the Senate for urgent consideration. While Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is now able to circumvent the filibuster to hold debate on this legislation, as he wrote in a recent letter to Democratic Senators, “to ultimately end debate and pass the voting rights legislation, we will need 10 Republicans to join us—which we know from past experience will not happen—or we will need to change the Senate rules as has been done many times before.”

Quoting a previous letter signed by 3,500 Catholic Sisters, we urge all Senators to take the necessary steps to contend with the filibuster and pass the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act into law before it is too late. 

As the Sisters wrote in July 2021, “Minority opposition must not keep Congress from passing critical democracy reform any longer. Senate rules like the filibuster cannot be allowed to indefinitely prevent the passage of critical freedom to vote legislation that will protect our democracy.

We know that the possibility to create a more just society ultimately rests upon the health of our democracy and the freedom of all voters to cast their ballots and have them counted. We are staunch supporters the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and applaud recent efforts to force debate on these bills.

Now is the time to safeguard our democracy and protect every voter’s sacred right to vote.

Read the text of NETWORK’s letter here. 

Why Catholics Should Be Actively Engaged in Efforts to Protect Our Democracy

Why Catholics Should Be Actively Engaged in Efforts to Protect Our Democracy

Congresswoman Veronica Escobar
January 6, 2022

Rep. Veronica Escobar represents Texas’ 16th Congressional District. She took office on January 3, 2019, making history as the first woman elected to this seat. This reflection appears in the First Quarter 2022 issue of Connection magazine, NETWORK’s official member publication.

When Catholics think about how they can live out the values of their faith through their politics, protecting their democracy is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. But it should be. Not only does the church support democracy as the form of government best suited to guarantee the protection and flourishing of all people, but people of goodwill have the responsibility to exercise solidarity toward those on the periphery who become the most vulnerable when democracy comes under threat.

Some threats are easier to see. On January 6, 2021, our nation and the world witnessed the most direct assault on U.S. democracy in our history: violent insurgents storming the U.S.

Capitol in an effort to stop me and my colleagues from certifying the 2020 presidential election. Not only were the insurgents trying to upend a Constitutionally mandated process, but they were trying to silence the voices of Black and Latino voters in places like Arizona and Georgia who decided the election for President Joe Biden.

The pushback from Republicans was swift and unmistakable.

Some 17 states, including my state of Texas, enacted restrictive voting laws that disproportionately burden voters of color and limit their access to the ballot box. In November, the Justice Department sued Texas, noting its strict limits on assisting voters at the polls burdens people with disabilities and limited English proficiency. This is just one example of why our country urgently needs the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the For the People Act, both of which passed the House in 2021 but have languished in the Senate.

“Democracy is based on mutual respect, on the possibility that each person can contribute to the good of society and on the consideration that different opinions do not threaten the power and security of states, but through honest debate mutually enrich them and enable them to find more suitable solutions to pressing problems,” Pope Francis argued in early 2021.

Shutting people out of the voting process is no way to ensure honest debate, and it’s telling that the lawmakers most adamant on enshrining these restrictions into law are also the ones least serious about finding solutions to the pressing problems mentioned by the pope: climate change, mass migration, and unprecedented economic inequality. Those who benefit from these crises know very well that including the voices of marginalized people in these systems could reduce their power and influence, as it did in 2020.

And it’s this awareness that should galvanize the 70 million Catholics in the U.S. and all people of goodwill to fight alongside those who stand to be the most impacted by the erosion of our democracy. The House of Representatives is doing the work — we sent the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the For the People Act to the Senate. We have been patient, we have been willing to work with the Senate, and even supported the Senate-authored Freedom to Vote Act as an alternative to our bills.

But we are running out of time. We must urge the Senate to work for the American people. Whether that means passing the For the People Act or the Freedom to Vote Act, the Senate must act now.

“If one part of the body suffers, then the whole body suffers with it,” St. Paul wrote (1 Cor 12:26). The same applies to threats to democracy. My district is over 83 percent Latino, and we know what it means to have destructive policies inflicted on our communities and families without them ever having a say.

A threat to one person’s voice is a threat to everyone’s. As Pope Francis has reminded us in his teachings on caring for the environment, we are all connected. Women have had the right to vote in this country for only a century, and the original Voting Rights Act passed in 1965 only to be gutted by the Supreme Court nearly 50 years later.

We must take seriously our responsibility to ensure that the rights of all, not just the wealthy and influential few, are protected equally. The Senate and President Biden must pick up where the House left off on voting rights. A democracy that ensures the participation of only the wealthy and powerful is not worthy of its name.

This story will be published in the upcoming First Quarter 2022 issue of Connection. Become a NETWORK member to receive a copy mailed to your home. 

The Time is Now

The Time is Now

Min. Christian Watkins
January 4, 2022

As we approach the one year anniversary of the January 6th insurrection, it is troubling to see that the quick passage of H.R.1 and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act in the House was followed by months of Republican obstruction in the Senate.

Despite month after month of aggressive and concerted attacks on voting rights and election administration by Republican state legislatures, the Senate has failed to respond by addressing the filibuster rule—the only remaining block to enacting critical protections.

The Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act represent NETWORK’s top priorities: to protect our democratic institutions and to advance a transformative, once-in-a-generation investment in families and communities. The Build Back Better Act along with reforms in the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis VRAA support families and protect the voices of those who have been systemically left behind in our economy and our democracy, particularly in the poor working class and in communities of color.

We urge Congress to take up continued negotiations on the Build Back Better bill and to take steps to pass the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis VRAA immediately upon your return.

Founded by Catholic Sisters, we continue their legacy today by building a just society that ensures our people have what they need to live dignified lives. We know that a functioning democracy also reduces inequality, gives the most vulnerable a voice, and protects the God-given dignity of every voter.

Our nation—and the Senate—cannot successfully move into 2022 without a candid assessment of the legislative disappointment at the close of 2021. The failure of the Senate to pass protections for our democracy and voting rights was a worst-case scenario for advocates wanting meaningful solutions to the problems confronting us.

The threats to our democracy are real and present and, without needed protections, could mean that the January 6th insurrection was a precursor to worse attacks to come. We must invest in a better future for everyone and ensure that the foundation of our democratic institutions remains sound.

The time to act is now. NETWORK urges Congress to seize this pivotal opportunity to enact transformative legislation on behalf of working families and our democratic institutions across the United States. If not, we will squander this chance to build a stronger and more equitable nation where prosperity and power are shared, rather than hoarded by special interests and the privileged few. We call on you to act faithfully and with speed to pass these critical bills.

All I Want for Christmas is a Faithful Democracy

All I Want for Christmas is a Faithful Democracy

Sister Quincy Howard, OP
December 22, 2021

As some of you may know, there are swirling rumors about the possibility that voting rights could move as soon as the Senate returns in January. With that in mind, it is the right moment for us to pull no punches in urging the White House to push the Democratic Caucus to finally pass the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis VRAA.

After the historical Senate floor address by Sen. Warnock earlier this month demanding action on voting rights, a very real energy is building among Senate Democrats.  The timing of consideration between Build Back Better and voting rights bill has been in flux in recent days, but there was a tangible pivot towards the latter with Manchin’s unexpected rejection of BBB negotiations on Fox News. It was a setback, for sure, but one that can be overcome.

In the meantime, what we are seeing is a problematic lack of enthusiasm by the Biden Administration to meet the level of energy in the Senate move on voting rights. We know his influence on Democratic Senators is powerful.  I chose to get arrested in front of the White House and to write about the moral call to pass these bills because we know President Biden also cares and listens when the faith community weighs in clear and strong.

In a faithful democracy, elections, campaigns, and voting are all mechanisms for a collective wisdom to shape truly representative leadership and empower accountable decision-makers. This is the open-loop system that, at its best, brings about a more perfect union. Transformational reforms are needed now to get us there, and cannot wait for another election cycle to pass.

Hampering voter participation has become campaign strategy in Republican led states. Gerrymandered districts are being drawn to lock in power for another decade rather than reflect the will of constituents. Dark money is already flooding the airwaves and internet with campaign attack ads and fear-mongering half-truths. All the while, a coordinated misinformation campaign is dangerously undermining voters’ trust in elections.

Leader Schumer has announced his intent to consider these bills as the first order of business in January—and to reform the filibuster rule if needed to have the debate and a vote. The White House must match his determination by encouraging the Senate Democrats to move on voting rights and adjust their rules as needed, even as they continue negotiating Build Back Better.

For now, make sure you stay updated with NETWORK here.

We look forward to what I hope is the final push to passage in the New Year and to welcoming Rev. Christian Watkins into the voting rights struggle on behalf of NETWORK. Take this holiday to rest so that you, too, will be ready to engage anew when the time is right.


Sr. Quincy Howard, OP