By JOSH GERSTEIN | 9/30/13
The Justice Department will file suit against North Carolina on Monday, charging that the Tar Heel State’s new law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls violates the Voting Rights Act by discriminating against African-Americans, according to a person familiar with the planned litigation.
Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to announce the lawsuit at 11 a.m. Monday at Justice Department headquarters, flanked by the three U.S. attorneys from North Carolina.
The suit, set to be filed in Greensboro, N.C., will ask that the state be barred from enforcing the new voter-ID law, the source said. However, the case will also go further, demanding that the entire state of North Carolina be placed under a requirement to have all changes to voting laws, procedures and polling places “precleared” by either the Justice Department or a federal court, the source added.
Until this year, 40 North Carolina counties were under such a requirement. However, in June the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the formula Congress used to subject all or part of 15 states to preclearance in recent decades.
The justices’ 5-4 ruling outraged civil-rights advocates, but did not disturb a rarely used “bail in” provision in the law that allows judges to put states or localities under the preclearance requirement. Civil rights groups and the Justice Department have since seized on that provision to try to recreate part of the regime that existed prior to the Supreme Court decision.
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, signed the voter ID measure into law last last month.
“Common practices like boarding an airplane and purchasing Sudafed require photo ID, and we should expect nothing less for the protection of our right to vote,” McCrory said at the time. “This new law brings our state in line with a healthy majority of other states throughout the country. This common-sense safeguard is commonplace.”