attorney General Merrick GarlandMerrick GarlandHouse Democrats push Garland for immigration court reforms announced Friday that the Department of Justice (DOJ) would double its employees’ voting rights, while condemning a number of recently enacted state laws and issuing a stern warning that the department would fight voter restrictions that violate the law.
Garland said the department will also take measures to curb gerrymandering while setting guidelines for absenteeism and postal voting before the 2022 midterm elections.
“We are examining new laws that seek to restrict voter access, and where we see violations, we will not hesitate to act,”
Garland pointed to 14 “new laws making it harder to vote,” including a law from Georgia that made headlines to prevent the distribution of food or water to voters waiting in line but at the same time introducing new limits on absenteeism.
The Attorney General said the DOJ should be “clear-eyed” about a 2013 Supreme Court ruling that cleared a key provision in the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
The provision gave the DOJ the so-called preclearance authority, which allowed the department to screen proposed changes to the voting procedures in states with a history of racial discrimination in elections.
“Today we are again without a preclearance provision. Then again, the Civil Rights Division will need more lawyers, ”he said.
Ministry of Justice under earlier President TrumpDonald Trump Trump DOJ seizes House Democrats’ data from Apple Iowa Governor issues failure to warn of wandering children plane to Des Moines Senate confirms first Muslim US federal judge MOREThe administration did not hire a single lawyer from outside for the suffrage section and left the department with only 15 suffrage lawyers – approx. half the number that manned the section during the time of former President Obama.
A review of pending state legislation by the Brennan Center for Justice showed that a wave of bills with restrictive voting provisions warning that activity is surpassing other years and leaving “The United States is about to far exceed the recent period of significant voter repression . “
Without precariousness, the DOJ is left to challenge laws after the fact by using a portion of the law that prevents discrimination on the basis of race, color, or membership of a “linguistic minority group.” But it confronts DOJ attorneys with a legal bar that can be difficult to clear and can leave laws as the department tries to prove that a new statute has a discriminatory effect.
Garland begged Congress to pass new measures to strengthen the DOJ’s voting rights authority, though his call is likely to fall on deaf ears.
In March, the Democratic-controlled House passed comprehensive suffrage legislation along party lines that would greatly improve voter protection. But it is unlikely that the legislation will clear the required threshold of 60 votes in the Senate.
A narrower target, that John LewisJohn Lewis, black Republican, supports his case for CBC membership Manchin insists he supports voting rights – we will see Senate Democrats confused by Joe Manchin MORE The Voting Rights Act, named after the late Congressman, would restore preclearance authority to the DOJ. But it is unlikely to garner enough votes in the Senate, where Democrats hold the thinnest majority.
Still, Garland said the department would use existing powers under the Voting Rights Act and other legal authorities “to ensure we protect any qualified American seeking to participate in our democracy.”
The series of new guidelines promised by Garland shows a DOJ eager to issue warning shots to states as new voting laws and legislative cards are increasingly challenged in court.
State legislators are preparing to use census data to draw new legislative districts – the first round of cards that have fallen since the DOJ lost its ability to be cleared.
“We will publish new guidelines to make clear what protection rules apply to all jurisdictions when drawing the legislative cards,” he said, adding that the department would also issue similar guidelines “regarding early voting and voting per se. Mail.”
Garland also aimed at Arizona’s ongoing revision of the 2020 election and other efforts that he said undermined confidence in voting while standing on disinformation.
He said states can expect guidance “that explains the civil and criminal statutes that apply to revision after elections.”
Many of the reasons given in support of these post-election revisions and restrictions on voting have relied on allegations of material electoral fraud in the 2020 election, which have been refuted by both law enforcement and intelligence agencies from both this administration and the former , as well as by any court – federal and state – that has considered them, ”he said.
The Attorney General also stressed that the DOJ’s criminal division has a role to play in the protection of elections. Garland said there has been an increase in threats against election officials, promising that federal prosecutors and law enforcement will “investigate and immediately prosecute” offenders.
“We have not been blind to the dramatic rise in threatening and violent threats against all kinds of state and local election workers, from the top administrators to volunteer pollsters,” Garland said. “Such threats undermine our electoral process and violate a myriad of federal laws.”