The Justice Department is expected to sue North Carolina on Monday over its restrictive new voting law, further escalating the Obama administration’s efforts to restore a stronger federal role in protecting minority voters after the Supreme Court struck down part of the Voting Rights Act, according to a person familiar with the department’s plans. The lawsuit, which had been anticipated, will ask a federal court to block North Carolina from enforcing four disputed provisions of its voting law, including a strict photo identification requirement. The lawsuit will also seek to reimpose a requirement that North Carolina obtain “preclearance” from the federal government before making changes to its election rules. The court challenge will join similar efforts by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division in Texas over that state’s redistricting plan and voter photo ID law. Those lawsuits are seeking to return Texas to federal “preclearance” oversight.
In June, all five Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices voted to do away with a provision in the Voting Rights Act that required North Carolina, Texas and six other states with histories of discrimination, mostly in the South, to obtain permission from the Justice Department or a federal court before changing their election procedures. All four Democratic-appointed justices dissented.
Since that ruling, Republican-controlled states have rushed to impose new limits on voting. Republicans say the restrictions are necessary to combat voter fraud.
There is no evidence of significant in-person impersonation fraud, the type ID laws can prevent. Democrats say the restrictions are intended to discourage groups that tend to support Democrats, like students, poor people and minorities.