The U.S. Justice Department has filed suit against Georgia over a far-reaching voting law passed by the Republican-led state legislature.
This suit is the first move by the Biden administration to challenge state-level ballot restrictions enacted since the 2020 election.
“The rights of all eligible citizens to vote are the central pillars of our democracy. They are the rights from which all other rights ultimately flow,” Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said at a press conference.
The complaint by the Department of Justice accuses Georgia of discriminating against Black voters and attempts to show that state lawmakers intend to violate the rights of those voters.
According to Kristen Clarke, head of the civil rights division of the Justice Department, many of the law’s provisions “were passed with a discriminatory purpose.”
In 2013, the Supreme Court overturned a crucial provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that permitted the Justice Department to stop states from passing laws that may enable voter discrimination.
The suit comes days after Republicans in Congress blocked Democrats’ efforts to advance the most ambitious federal voting rights legislation in a generation.
The Justice Department is also actively working to quash increased threats to election officials and poll workers. This includes creating a task force to investigate and prosecute harassment of election officials.
Difference in opinions
Democratic leaders and the Biden administration have pledged to continue to work for federal voting rights legislation to be made law. Additionally, they plan to increase pressure on Republicans and critical states.
The filing shows that the administration plans to continue to utilize all the tools the Justice Department has to aggressively fight states and state actions that are seen as disenfranchising minority voters.
Biden has several speeches planned in states he sees as a threat to the voting process and has made the comparison to Jim Crow.
Garland is calling on Congress to give the department more help, saying, “This lawsuit is the first of many steps we are taking to ensure that all eligible voters can cast a vote, that all lawful votes are counted and that every voter has access to accurate information.”
Republicans in the state say the law streamlines voting procedures.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp said that the lawsuit “is born out of the lies and misinformation the Biden administration has pushed against” the new law.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger echoed Kemp and tweeted, “We’re looking forward to meeting them and beating them in court. We’re battle-hardened and battle-tested. We’ve been fighting Stacey Abrams since I took office in 2019. We’ve won before. We’re going to win again.”