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DOJ lawyers initially recommended rejection of Georgia voter ID law

[JURIST] Lawyers from the US Department of Justice [official website] recommended that the department reject Georgia's new voter-identification law [PDF text], but were overruled by higher-ranking DOJ officials, according to documents obtained by the Washington Post. Four of five staff members reviewing the Georgia law, as part of the review process required under the 1965 Voting Rights Act [DOJ backgrounder] for all changes in voting requirements in states with a history of suppressing minority votes, recommended blocking the law because Georgia had failed to show that the requirement that voters produce government-issued photo identification at the polls would not dilute the votes of minority residents and because there was significant evidence that the plan would reduce blacks' access to the polls. The recommendation, however, was not acted on, and the DOJ Civil Rights Division [official website] later approved the law [JURIST report]. Rights groups and Georgia voters have filed a lawsuit [PDF complaint; JURIST report] challenging the law and are seeking to have the law declared unconstitutional on the grounds that it "imposes an unauthorized, unnecessary and undue burden on the fundamental right to vote" in violation of the Georgia and US constitutions and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. So far, the plaintiffs have won a temporary injunction [PDF text; JURIST report] barring enforcement of the law, which was later upheld JURIST report] by a federal appeals court. Supporters of the law have argued that DOJ approval of the program shows that the law would not discriminate against African Americans and other minorities. Earlier this week, it was reported that lawyers are leaving the Civil Rights division in record numbers [JURIST report], in part because the current administration is frustrating efforts of long-time employees and excluding them from major policy decisions. Thursday's Washington Post has more.

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