Attorney General Merrick Garland violated his pledge to avoid “politicizing” the Department of Justice (DOJ) by blasting state’s election laws in a statement honoring the one year anniversary of the death of civil rights giant Democratic Rep. John Lewis.
“Since 2013, there has been a dramatic rise across the country in legislative efforts that make it harder for millions of citizens to vote. This increase accelerated after the 2020 elections,” Garland said in a Saturday morning statement.
“The recent further narrowing of voting protections only underscores the need for legislative action. The Department of Justice is using all the tools at its disposal to protect the voting rights of all citizens, but that is not enough. We need Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would provide the Department with important tools to protect the right to vote and to ensure that every vote is counted.”
Garland blasted the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder in 2013, which eliminated the Voting Rights Act’s preclearance provisions, which Garland states was “one of the nation’s most effective tools for safeguarding voting rights.”
Vice President Kamala Harris echoed Garland’s comments Saturday, remembering Rep. Lewis and also stating, “Today, the fight is not over. The right to vote remains under attack in states across our nation.”
During his Senate confirmation hearing, Garland made a promise to keep politics out of DOJ. stating in an exchange with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, “I’m telling you what I think an attorney general ought to do — which is to look at the facts before making a decision. I’m also telling you that I will never make a decision in the department based on politics or partisanship.”
However, the country’s top law enforcement officer has come under fire from critics, who argue that DOJ’s recent decision to sue Georgia over its controversial new voting law “politicized” the department.
In June, Garland directed DOJ to sue Georgia, alleging Republican state lawmakers rushed through a sweeping overhaul with an intent to deny Black voters equal access to the ballot.
Georgia officials fired back, saying that the lawsuit is “blatantly political” and that Georgia’s law actually strengthens security, expands access and improves transparency in elections.
In addition, Biden was strongly rebuked by the Washington Post’s fact-checker, earning “Four Pinocchios” for his false claim that the new Georgia law “ends voting hours early.” The law actually allows counties to extend early voting hours and Election Day hours were not changed.
Less than a week later, the Supreme Court issued a decision in the closely watched election integrity case, Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, upholding Arizona’s ability to enforce laws meant to keep the election process secure – including rules that outlawed ballot harvesting and allowing provisional ballots cast at the wrong precinct to be thrown out.
Debates over state election integrity laws are unlikely to go away soon, as legislation in Georgia, Texas, Arizona and other states continue to grab the national spotlight.
Senator Klobuchar, D-Minn., and liberal activist Stacey Abrams are expected to host a town hall-style “discussion with Georgia voters” on Sunday, before heading to Capitol Hill on Monday for a Senate committee hearing on voting rights.
Georgia’s attorney general Chris Carr, who will be defending the state’s election law in court against DOJ, blasted the Democrats on twitter for lying about the state’s election law and for barring the public from attending the event.
A group of Texas Democratic state lawmakers made a splash this week when they skipped out of Austin and flew to Washington, D.C., in an attempt to stall a Republican-backed election integrity bill, which they claim would cause voter suppression.
Vice President Harris praised the Democrats for their “bold, courageous action.”