Georgia Seeks Dismissal of Department of Justice Lawsuit Over Voting Law

Georgia Seeks Dismissal of Department of Justice Lawsuit
Over Voting Law 1

The state of Georgia on Wednesday asked a judge to toss a case brought by the Department of Justice (DOJ) over a voting law passed earlier this year and signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp.

The federal lawsuit “fails to plead a legally cognizable claim under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act,” Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, a Republican, wrote in the 37-page filing in USA v. Georgia.

Legal precedent holds that discriminatory results must be found to affirm a violation of the act, Carr said.

“The Court will search in vain for such allegations in the complaint because DOJ cannot plausibly allege that SB 202 has any discriminatory results,” he added.

Even if discriminatory intent was actionable, the Department of Justice complaint fails to lay out facts showing such intent, instead relying on “innuendo and hyperbole,” the filing says.

It also asserts that the complaint could not survive the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Brnovich v. the Democratic National Committee, in which the nation’s top court said, “mere inconvenience cannot be enough to demonstrate a violation” of the Voting Rights Act.

“Indeed, Brnovich so forecloses this action that it raises the question why DOJ is still pursuing it. One answer, again, is politics: the complaint was filed just three days after voting reforms advanced by U.S. Senate Democrats and the administration failed on the Senate floor. But regardless of actual motive, the complaint lacks the most basic allegations to support a Section 2 claim. It must therefore be dismissed,” Carr said.

In a separate motion, the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Senate Committee, and the Georgia Republican Party also asked the judge overseeing the case to throw it out, offering similar arguments.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr speaks at a news conference in Marietta, Ga., on Nov. 3, 2020. (Megan Varner/Getty Images)

The DOJ sued Georgia last month over the state’s Election Integrity Act, or Senate Bill 2020, alleging the law violated the Voting Rights Act.

Federal lawyers said the law created burdensome provisions for mail-in voting, claiming they were adopted with the aim of denying or infringing upon the right to vote on account of race.

U.S. District Judge Jean-Paul Boulee is overseeing the case. He is a Trump appointee.

Georgia’s attempt to have the case dismissed came on the same day the Department of Justice indicated it might sue states that return to voting regulations in place before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We didn’t want to sort of give jurisdictions, or think jurisdictions should have a safe harbor to say ‘because we ran our voting system this way before the pandemic, we’re free to go back to that,’ even going back to that has a racially discriminatory impact or even if going back to that is in part motivated by racial reasons,” a DOJ official told reporters in a call.

The official cited the Georgia law as an example, noting the bill drops some of the voting practices implemented due to the pandemic, such as a major increase in drop boxes where ballots could be dropped off.

One of two guidance documents the agency released—one centers on audits—dealt with the matter, warning that the department “does not consider a jurisdiction’s re-adoption of prior voting laws or procedures to be presumptively lawful.”

“The right of all eligible citizens to vote is the central pillar of our democracy, and the Justice Department will use all of the authorities at its disposal to zealously guard that right,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. “The guidances issued today describe certain federal laws that help ensure free, fair, and secure elections. Where violations of such laws occur, the Justice Department will not hesitate to act.”

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