Lawyers’ Committee Condemns DOJ and Georgia’s Maneuvers to Preclear New Registration Procedures
In a filing made in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., the Lawyers' Committee, on September 7, 2010, sharply criticized maneuvers by the State of Georgia and the U.S. Department of Justice to abruptly preclear new voter registration procedures adopted by the Georgia Secretary of State.
The new procedures purport to verify the U.S. citizenship and identity of voter registration applicants. However, in May 2009, the Justice Department blocked Georgia's implementation of the new procedures, pursuant to its authority under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, finding that the procedures are discriminatory.
The State of Georgia then filed suit seeking judicial preclearance, and the Lawyers' Committee and other voting rights groups intervened on behalf of minority residents of Georgia to oppose preclearance.
As the litigation was about to get underway, Georgia and the Justice Department suddenly announced, on August 16, 2010, a settlement aimed at allowing the state to implement versions of the new registration procedures that are substantially the same as the procedures the Justice Department previously found to be discriminatory.
Then - just as suddenly - the State and the Justice Department announced that they had conducted an end-run around the litigation by initiating and completing administrative preclearance of the procedures within a period of twenty-four hours, between August 17th and 18th, thereby mooting the lawsuit.
These maneuvers by the State and the Justice Department represent a departure from past practice and were apparently undertaken solely to prevent minority citizens of Georgia, as intervenors, from contesting preclearance.
To read the response to Georgia and the Department of Justice's Joint Motion to Dismiss filed by the Lawyers' Committee and other representatives of Georgia's minority population, please click here.