A conservative legal scholar has argued that the Department of Justice’s new lawsuit challenging Georgia’s election law could backfire against the Biden administration and fail in court.
‘I’m highly skeptical and I think that they may ultimately regret this move. It could indeed clarify this issue in the way that the Biden administration does not want,’ Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, told Fox News.
Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday announced the suit against Georgia, alleging Republican state lawmakers passed a sweeping election reform to discriminate against black voters.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp staunchly denied the claim, and said that the law’s provisions limiting ballot drop-boxes and requiring mail-in voters to identify themselves with a state ID number are necessary to ensure integrity at the polls.
Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, warned the new DOJ lawsuit against Georgia’s election law could backfire against the Biden administration
Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday announced the suit against Georgia, alleging Republican state lawmakers passed the sweeping election reform to discriminate against black voters
Turley pointed out that the provisions in the Georgia law differ little from those in many other states, including President Joe Biden’s home state of Delaware, which requires an ID to vote at the polls.
‘This is a very dubious case in my view. Because the Georgia law has great overlap with other states like Delaware. Voter identification, as an example, is extremely popular with voters,’ he said.
Turley added that the suit could also raise issues with the sweeping election bills that Democrats are trying to pass through Congress, which would institute universal mail-in voting and election-day registration.
‘One of the issues that the court may ultimately amplify is that elections were left in the Constitution to the state,’ Turley said.
‘Alexander Hamilton actually wrote in the Federalist Papers, imagine if the federal government was to take over the management of elections and he basically said we would all object,’ he added.
‘Well, that’s what’s happening now in Congress, they are trying to essentially federalize elections, and I think they are going to have a serious pushback on this lawsuit.’
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp said that the law’s provisions are necessary to ensure integrity at the polls and election security
Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, has said he would contest the suit.
‘The Biden Administration has been spreading lies about Georgia´s election law for months,’ Raffensperger said in a statement. ‘It is no surprise that they would operationalize their lies with the full force of the federal government. I look forward to meeting them, and beating them, in court.’
Kemp, also a Republican, called the Justice Department’s lawsuit ‘legally and constitutionally dead wrong’ and said the accusations made by prosecutors were baseless and ‘quite honestly, disgusting.’
‘Today, the Biden Justice Department launched a politically motivated assault on the rule of law and our democracy,’ he said at a news conference.
While much of the more controversial aspects of Georgia’s new voting law were dropped before it was passed, it is notable in its scope and for newly expansive powers granted to the state over local election offices.
Kristen Clarke, the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, will oversee the federal lawsuit against Georgia’s law
The bill, known as SB 202, also adds a voter ID requirement for mail ballots, shortens the time period for requesting a mailed ballot and results in fewer ballot drop boxes available in metro Atlanta – provisions that drew the challenge from the federal government.
‘The changes to absentee voting were not made in a vacuum,’ Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said. ‘These changes come immediately after successful absentee voting in the 2020 election cycle, especially among black voters. SB 202 seeks to halt and reverse this progress.’
The lawsuit also takes aim at another controversial measure – a ban on the distribution of food and water by various groups and organizations to voters standing in line to cast a ballot.
Democrats say the handouts are needed to encourage voters who find themselves in long lines. Republicans argue freebies should be banned to prevent unlawful electioneering from happening at polling places.
In 2020, just two states had ID requirements for voters requesting a mailed ballot. Along with Georgia, lawmakers in Florida have also passed a law requiring additional identification for mail voting. Clarke described the Georgia law as adding ‘new and unnecessarily stringent’ identification requirements to mail voting.
In Georgia, drop boxes were permitted last year under an emergency rule prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.
State Republicans have defended the new law as making drop boxes a permanent option for voters and requiring all counties to have at least one.
But critics say the new limits mean there will be fewer drop boxes available in the state’s most populous communities.
Hundreds of people wait in line for early voting on Monday, Oct. 12, 2020, in Marietta, Georgia
For the entire metro Atlanta area, Democrats estimate the number of drop boxes will fall from 94 last year to no more than 23 for future elections based on the new formula of one drop box per 100,000 registered voters.
Clarke noted that metro Atlanta is home to the largest black voting-age population in the state.
The NAACP and advocates such as Stacey Abrams applauded the administration’s step. NAACP President Derrick Johnson said Georgia´s law was a ‘blatant assault on the American people’s most fundamental and sacred right, the right to vote.’
The law already is the subject of seven other federal suits filed by civil rights and election integrity groups that raise a number of claims under the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination in voting.
The Supreme Court also is weighing a voting rights dispute from Arizona that predates last year´s election in which the court could again significantly cut back on the use of the voting rights law.
Eight years ago Friday, the high court removed the Justice Department´s most effective tool in combating discriminatory voting laws: the requirement that states with a history of racial discrimination, mostly in the South, obtain advance approval of any voting changes from the government or a court.
The department also announced Friday that it was creating a task force and advising FBI and U.S. attorneys to prioritize investigations of threats against election officials.