Politics

National Republican groups RNC and NRSC join Georgia to fight Biden DOJ's suit against new voting law

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Key Points
  • The Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee said they are intervening to defend Georgia in a lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice.
  • The lawsuit from President Joe Biden's DOJ alleges that a recently passed election law in the state violates voting protections for minorities.
  • Attorney General Merrick Garland accused Georgia of enacting the law "with the purpose of denying or abridging the right of Black Georgians to vote on account of their race or color."
Republican Party members are silhouetted against the Republican National Committee (RNC) logo at the RNC annual winter meeting at a hotel in Washington.
Jason Reed | Reuters

Two national Republican Party organizations rushed to Georgia's defense in a lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice, which alleges that a recently passed election law violates voting protections for minorities.

The Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee said in a press release Thursday that they are intervening to defend Georgia against the "politically-motivated lawsuit."

President Joe Biden and other Democrats are "weaponizing the Justice Department by trying to strong-arm the state of Georgia into making its elections less secure," RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement in the release.

Republicans argue that SB 202, the election overhaul bill signed in March by Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, enshrines common-sense voter protections into law.

But Attorney General Merrick Garland, who announced the lawsuit in late June, accused the Peach State of enacting the law "with the purpose of denying or abridging the right of Black Georgians to vote on account of their race or color."

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland attends a news conference to announce that the Justice Department will file a lawsuit challenging a Georgia election law that imposes new limits on voting, at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., June 25, 2021.
Ken Cedeno | Reuters

The law reportedly enacts a slew of restrictive and potentially confusing measures that critics allege will harm turnout, especially in Democrat and minority-heavy urban and suburban counties.

The DOJ's complaint notes, for instance, that the law imposes new restrictions and additional steps on the process of casting absentee ballots — changes that come in the context of a "dramatic increase in Black Georgians' use of absentee voting" in the 2020 election cycle.

The historically Republican-leaning state broke for Biden over former President Donald Trump in a major upset. Trump never conceded to Biden and has repeatedly made the false claim that the presidential race was stolen from him through widespread fraud. Democrats also won the state's two U.S. Senate seats in early January runoffs, giving the party an effective majority in the chamber.

In the wake of the 2020 elections, which ended with Democrats in control of the White House and Congress, Republicans in numerous states have put forward election-reform proposals that mirror parts of Georgia's law.

Pastor Timothy McDonald III speaks during a rally against the state's new voting restrictions outside the Georgia State Capitol, in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., June 8, 2021.
Elijah Nouvelage | Reuters

McDaniel in her statement Thursday morning referenced last week's Supreme Court ruling, which upheld two Republican-supported voting rules in Arizona that critics argued were discriminatory.

The court, in a 6-3 opinion that divided the conservative majority from the three liberal justices, said that the Arizona rules did not violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires elections to be equally open to people of all races.

"Democrats in Washington are fighting tooth and nail to strip states of all local election control, and Georgia is their number one target," NRSC Chairman and Florida Sen. Rick Scott said in the press release. 

"The Department of Justice's frivolous, politicized lawsuit looks to overturn a common sense, popular bill that would protect every Georgian's vote, encourage more voting, and restore trust in the process," Scott said.

"Republicans will not stand for such abusive overreach by the DOJ and the NRSC is proud to join the RNC in this worthwhile fight," he said.