On The Issues: From Filibuster to Representation-Is the Senate Broken?

'On The Issues' podcast, host Dr. Michelle Goodwin speaks with justice advocate Barbara Arnwine,

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This week, on the ‘On The Issues’ podcast, host Dr. Michelle Goodwin speaks with justice advocate Barbara Arnwine,(shown above) Rick Hasen, and Cynthia Terrell about the state of affairs in Congress in the episode entitled ‘From Filibuster to Representation-Is the Senate Broken?’

On the Issues with Michele Goodwin is a popular issues- and policy-focused podcast featuring feminist analysis, insightful conversations and exciting guests. This is the first podcast from Ms. magazine, a legacy feminist publication. In each bi-weekly episode, host Dr. Michele Goodwin and special guests will tackle the most compelling issues of our times, centering feminist concerns about rebuilding our nation and advancing the promise of equality.

The new episode—From Filibuster to Representation-Is the Senate Broken? (with Barbara R. Arnwine, Rick Hasen, and Cynthia Richie Terrell)—is available now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and MsMagazine.com.

The 2020 election revealed the deep fractures in U.S. democracy and its electoral system. Many were already there, but this past election truly pushed our voting system to its limits.

“Many of the familiar procedures for translating the people’s will into the choice of a president depend on norms of behavior, not laws,” guest Rick Hasen put it­—evident from the significant efforts undertaken to undermine and interfere with the results of the election.

Part of this dysfunction played out in the Senate, where the institution itself protects arcane rules and undemocratic processes. One of the important Senate rules at issue today is the filibuster, which has been weaponized at various times to defeat important legislation.

This week, Dr. Goodwin and her guests ask: Is the Senate truly representative? Is the electoral system fair? Is it time to eliminate the electoral college? What other electoral reforms should we be considering? What does contemporary voter suppression look like? What purpose does the filibuster serve? Is it a barrier to real progress?

Dr. Goodwin is joined by Barbara Arnwine, president and founder of the Transformative Justice Coalition; Rick Hasen, chancellor’s professor of law and political science at the University of California, Irvine; and Cynthia Richie Terrell, founder and executive director of RepresentWomen and regular Ms. contributor.

Their conversation covered a wide range of topics. Here are a few excerpts from the conversation:

“The Democrats seeing what they thought was obstruction by Republicans eliminated the filibuster as to nominations other than Supreme Court Justices. When Republicans came into power, they eliminated the filibuster as to Supreme Court Justices, as well. That’s how the last three justices were able to get through without a 60 majority vote.” —Rick Hasen

“It was horrific. It was horrific, and you know I just want people to understand what it means to have a filibuster where the underlying codes, that’s all these racial codes in America, you know, coded language, coded practices, coded procedures, and not even to mention the Constitution itself…” —Barbara Arnwine

“In 2021, there are 24 women in the US Senate, there are 0 Black women in the US Senate, there have only been 2 Black women in the US Senate.” —Cynthia Richie Terrell

Meet the Host of On the Issues:

Dr. Michele Goodwin is a frequent contributor to Ms. Magazine and on MsMagazine.com. She is a Chancellor’s Professor at the University of California, Irvine and also serves on the executive committee and national board of the ACLU. Dr. Goodwin is a prolific author and an elected member of the American Law Institute, as well as an elected Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and the Hastings Center. Her most recent book, Policing The Womb: Invisible Women and The Criminalization of Motherhood, is described as a “must read.”

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