District Court Grants Lawyers' Committee's Motion to Intervene in Georgia v. Holder in Defense of Minority Voting Rights

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The United States District Court in the District of Columbia has granted the motion filed by the Lawyers' Committee and its co-counsel on behalf of Georgia citizens and organizations in State of Georgia v. Holder. This will enable the Lawyers' Committee and its allies to continue working to prevent implementation of a discriminatory voter verification system and to defend the constitutionality of an important provision of the Voting Rights Act.

The voter verification procedures Georgia seeks to implement are flawed and discriminatory.... In addition, Georgia's past and ongoing record of voting discrimination justify why Section 5 continues to be needed in Georgia.

The United States District Court in the District of Columbia has granted the motion filed by the Lawyers’ Committee and its co-counsel on behalf of Georgia citizens and organizations in State of Georgia v. Holder (Case # 10-1062). This will enable the Lawyers’ Committee and its allies to continue working to prevent implementation of a discriminatory voter verification system and to defend the constitutionality of an important provision of the Voting Rights Act.

Because of Georgia’s history of discrimination in voting, it is one of nine states covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. As a covered state, Georgia must demonstrate to the Department of Justice (DOJ) or the District Court of the District of Columbia that any changes to its voting procedure or practices are nondiscriminatory before Georgia can implement the changes.

Prior to the November 2008 election, Georgia Election Protection and the Lawyers’ Committee learned that Georgia was informing its counties not to accept the registration of voter applicants who showed up as alleged “non-citizens” in the Department of Drivers Services database unless and until those citizens provided proof of citizenship. The purported non-citizen list turned out to be riddled with errors. Because Georgia implemented these new procedures without seeking federal preclearance, the Lawyers’ Committee and its partners filed suit in federal court in Georgia to block their implementation in Morales v. Handel (Case # 1:08-cv-3712). Subsequent to the filing of the Morales case, Georgia submitted the procedures to DOJ and DOJ objected to them on the ground that they had a discriminatory effect upon minority voters.

Having failed to get preclearance from DOJ for the procedures at issue in Morales and other voter verification procedures, Georgia now seeks preclearance from the District Court in the District of Columbia. Georgia has also made the alternative claim that if the court denies preclearance, Section 5 is unconstitutional as it applies to Georgia.

The Lawyers’ Committee is co-counseling with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Foundation, the ACLU of the Nation’s Capital and the ACLU of Georgia in representing Tyrone Brooks, the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials, Edward O. Dubose, the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP, Helen Butler and the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda.

“The voter verification procedures Georgia seeks to implement are flawed and discriminatory,” stated Jon Greenbaum, legal director for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “In addition, Georgia’s past and ongoing record of voting discrimination justify why Section 5 continues to be needed in Georgia.”

To read the order granting the Lawyers’ Committee’s Motion to Intervene, please click here.

To read the Lawyers’ Committee’s Memorandum in Support of our Motion to Intervene, please click here.

To read the State of Georgia’s Complaint against Attorney General Holder, please click here:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/33473036/Complaint-Georgia-v-Holder-6-21-2010

To learn more about Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, please click here:
http://www.justice.gov/crt/voting/sec_5/about.php or http://www.lawyerscommittee.org/projects/voting_rights/page?id=0005

About the Lawyers’ Committee
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (LCCRUL), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and fair lending, community development, employment discrimination, voting, education and environmental justice. For more information about the LCCRUL, visit http://www.lawyerscommittee.org.

CONTACT:
Stacie B. Royster
202-662-8317, office
202-445-6101, mobile

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Stacie Royster