On Friday, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that the U.S. Department of Justice would be using Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act to sue the state of Georgia over its 2021 election law package recently signed into law. As reported by Margot Cleveland for The Federalist:
First, the DOJ complains that Georgia prohibits the distribution of unsolicited absentee ballot applications then also bars private organizations from distributing duplicate absent ballot applications. Next, the DOJ challenges Georgia’s requirement that in requesting an absentee ballot that voters either provide their driver’s license number or present a photocopy of another form of identification — but even a utility bill would suffice.
Also challenged are limits on the time period for requesting absentee ballots and limits on the number and location of absentee ballot drop boxes. Finally, the DOJ is challenging Georgia’s ban on out-of-precinct voting and the distribution of food or drinks by private organizations to persons waiting in line.
(Thread 1/2): Joined @harrylitman and @ShannonBream on @FoxNews tonight to discuss the fight for #VoterID in the state of Georgia - Why is the #DOJ weighing in on the fictional story that this voter integrity package discriminates against minorities? pic.twitter.com/OwzgOiR7O2— Harmeet K. Dhillon (@pnjaban) June 26, 2021
RNC Chief Counsel Justin Riemer pointed out that the DOJ has decided to attack Georgia's new laws at a time when there are other Democrat-run jurisdictions that consistently fail to properly conduct elections.
DOJ should be focused on real voting rights issues like the failures of officials in places like NYC, Fulton County, and others who have consistently failed to deliver well-run elections for their voters. Instead DOJ is attacking laws that aim to fix those problems. https://t.co/c4kY0UgZoy— Justin Riemer (@Justin_Riemer) June 25, 2021
For each of these challenged provisions, the complaint alleges black voters are burdened more than white voters. But even under current precedent — outside the liberal Ninth Circuit — that is not enough. Rather, the question is whether under the totality of the circumstances the challenged provisions deny black voters an equal opportunity to participate in the electoral process and that that burden is caused by historical or current race discrimination.
Given that Georgia’s law provides more generous early voting and absentee voting opportunities than many other states, it is difficult to see how a court would find these provisions violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
As CNN noted, the timing of Attorney General Garland's announcement was no mistake:
When Attorney General Merrick Garland appeared before cameras Friday to announce a lawsuit challenging Georgia's new voting restrictions, it was the timing and the Justice Department's strategy that intrigued voting rights experts.
That's because the lawsuit -- triggering the latest dispute about the scope of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act -- came as the Supreme Court is poised to release an opinion on the very same section of the law. The opinion -- in one of the marquee cases of the term -- will come down next week. In addition, Garland timed his announcement to the exact eight-year anniversary of the court's last big voting rights case. In the landmark decision called Shelby County v. Holder, Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for a 5-4 majority, effectively gutted a separate section of the law and declared that "things have changed in the South."
Garland wanted to send a clear message Friday: Roberts was wrong. "I express concern about the dramatic rise in state legislative actions that will make it harder for millions of citizens to cast a vote that counts," the attorney general said.
Garland, a former judge steeped in precedent, knows full well the impact of the Shelby County decision and will be carefully watching how the justices rule next week. But the Justice Department filing also reveals a careful strategy. It is crafted in a way that will allow it to endure even if the court's majority further trims the Voting Rights Act next week.
Now that the Corrupt Politicians Act has been rejected by Congress, the Democrats are using the Voting Rights Act as a vehicle to crack down on state election laws that promote integrity and transparency in the electoral process while ignoring longstanding problems in jurisdictions run by Democrats.