Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has released a statement in response to the United States Department of Justice’s (DOJ) latest lawsuit. Kemp says the suit is “born out of the lies and misinformation the Biden administration has pushed against Georgia’s Election Integrity Act from the start.”
“Joe Biden, Stacey Abrams, and their allies tried to force an unconstitutional elections power grab through Congress – and failed,” Kemp said in the statement. “Now, they are weaponizing the U.S. Department of Justice to carry out their far-left agenda that undermines election integrity and empowers federal government overreach in our democracy. As Secretary of State, I fought the Obama Justice Department twice to protect the security of our elections – and won. I look forward to going three-for-three to ensure it’s easy to vote and hard to cheat in Georgia.”
Attorney General Merrick Garland backed by Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke made the announcement that they would be suing the state of Georgia over its restrictive voting law, Senate Bill 202, on Friday (June 25) during a press conference held at the DOJ in Washington, D.C.
“Our complaint alleges that recent changes to Georgia’s election laws were enacted with the purpose of denying or abridging the right of Black Georgians to vote on account of their race or color, in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act,” Garland said.
The suit comes on the heels of Garland’s pledge — two weeks ago — to defend voting rights as the “cornerstone” of American democracy. It’s the first significant move from the Biden administration to combat the onslaught of restrictive voting rights measures Republican-led states have recently passed.
According to the Brennan Center For Justice, as of May 14, “legislators have introduced 389 bills with restrictive provisions in 48 states and twenty-two bills with restrictive provisions have already been enacted.” But the lawsuit Garland announced on Friday is directly aimed at Georgia’s SB202. The bill, signed by Georgia’s Governor Brian Kemp behind closed doors in March, makes sweeping changes to the state’s absentee voting rules, adds new voter ID mandates and makes it illegal to serve food or water to voters while they wait in line.
“Two weeks ago, you made clear that the department will spare no effort to protect voting rights in this country,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said. “As you and I have discussed on many occasions, the Civil Rights Division stands on the front lines of this work. While it is the honor of a lifetime to lead the division charged with upholding the nation’s civil rights laws, it is also a great responsibility.”
“Today, that responsibility requires that I announce the division has found it necessary to file suit against the State of Georgia,” Clarke continued. “The Civil Rights Division did not arrive at this decision lightly. It’s our job to follow the facts and the law, and, in this case, our careful assessment of the facts and the law demonstrates that Georgia’s recent voting rights law violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.”
Specifically, Clarke said the provisions within the law that are being challenged reduce access to absentee voting and push more Black voters to in-person voting where they will be more likely than white voters to confront long lines.
President Biden has not commented on the filing publicly yet, but the move by the DOJ could be in response to Republicans shutting down a debate on Tuesday (June 22) over H.R. 1, also known as the For The People Act.