One of the newest members of the U.S. Senate suggested Wednesday that he did not think the Department of Justice’s decision to sue him was a wise use of its resources. During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Loretta Lynch’s nomination to be attorney general, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) used his time to take issue with the DOJ lawsuit that sought to block provisions of a North Carolina election law that civil rights advocates considered one of the most restrictive in the country. Tillis, who previously served as speaker of the house in North Carolina, helped push through the law in 2013 shortly after the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act that had required 40 of the state’s 100 counties to obtain federal pre-approval of changes to voting procedures.
A federal appeals court temporarily struck down portions of the state law this past October, ruling that there was “no doubt” that some of its measures would effectively disenfranchise minority voters and that the legislation “stripped away” the rights of North Carolinians. But the Supreme Court blocked that ruling because it would have changed the state’s voting procedures too close to the November election. The long-term status of the North Carolina law is still to be decided, as a full trial on the law’s merits has not yet taken place.