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Former President Obama speaks at the COP26 summit on Nov. 8, 2021, in Glasgow, Scotland. Photo: Ian Forsyth via Getty Images

Former President Obama threw his support behind changing the filibuster on Wednesday in an op-ed that emphasized the need to "vigilantly preserve and protect" the right to vote.

Why it matters: The move comes a day after President Biden publicly backed rule changes to the filibuster this week to ensure the Senate passes Democrats' voting rights legislation.

What he's saying: "For generations, Americans of every political stripe have taken pride in our status as the world’s oldest continuous democracy," Obama wrote in the USA Today op-ed.

  • "But as we learned during the Jim Crow era, our role as democracy’s defender isn’t credible when we violate the rights and freedoms of our own citizens."
  • Recent assaults on voting rights have led to a "slow unraveling of basic democratic institutions and electoral mechanisms," he said.

Zoom in: In the op-ed, Obama highlighted efforts to:

"These partisan attempts at voter nullification are unlike anything we've seen in modern times ... when one of our two major parties seems intent on chipping away at the foundation of our own democracy."
— Former President Obama

Historically, the filibuster "has no basis" in the Constitution, and was used most notably to block civil rights legislation, according to Obama.

  • "[W]e can't allow it to be used to block efforts to protect our democracy," he said, adding that he fully supports Biden's call to modify Senate rules as needed.
  • "Our democracy isn’t a given ... We, as citizens, have to nurture and tend it," he said. "And in that task, we have to vigilantly preserve and protect our most basic tool of self-government, which is the right to vote."
  • "Now is the time for the U.S. Senate to do the right thing."

What to watch: The Senate is expected to vote on rule changes to the filibuster by Jan. 17.

Go deeper

King family leads Arizona rally to mobilize support for voting rights bills

Martin Luther King III addresses a "Let's Finish the Job for the People" rally near the U.S. Capitol on Sept. 14, 2021. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Family members of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. honored his birthday Saturday with a rally in Arizona to mobilize support for voting rights legislation.

Driving the news: The rally comes days after Martin Luther King III admonished Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) on Thursday, saying history will remember her "unkindly" for voicing her opposition to abolishing the filibuster to pass major voting rights bills.

Scoop: Stephanie Ruhle to replace Brian Williams on MSNBC

Photo: Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

MSNBC will soon announce plans to move morning anchor Stephanie Ruhle to the 11 pm ET hour that Brian Williams turned into an elite destination, two sources familiar with the move tell Axios.

Details: The 9 am ET hour, currently hosted by Ruhle, will become part of MSNBC's flagship morning show, "Morning Joe," which currently runs from 6 am to 9 am ET.

Oath Keepers leader denied bail on Capitol riot sedition charge

Oath Keepers co-founder Elmer Stewart Rhodes. Photo: Susan Walsh/AP

A federal judge ordered Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes to remain jailed Wednesday until trial on charges stemming from the Capitol riot.

Why it matters: The judge said the most prominent far-right figure charged in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection had access to weapons and his alleged "continued advocacy for violence against the federal government" gave credence to prosecutors' view that, if released, Rhodes could endanger others.