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Justice Department sues Georgia over GOP voting restrictions

Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Friday that the Department of Justice is suing the state of Georgia over its voting restrictions, alleging that they discriminate against Black voters.

Why it matters: It's the first major action the Biden administration has taken in response to the wave of voting restrictions that Republican-led states have sought to impose in the wake of President Biden's election.

  • In a major policy speech earlier this month, Garland pledged to make voting rights a top priority, doubling the number of enforcement staff dedicated to protecting the right to vote.
  • The lawsuit is being overseen by Kristen Clarke, the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, and Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Pamela Karlan.

Driving the news: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed the sweeping overhaul to the state's election law in March.

  • The law, called Georgia’s Election Integrity Act, includes measures that cut the time period voters have to request absentee ballots, limit drop boxes, impose new identification requirements and give greater control of election administration to the state legislature.
  • Voting activists say the measures are intended to target heavily Democratic jurisdictions and will hurt Black and Latino voters the most.

The big picture: The announcement comes just days after Senate Republicans blocked a sweeping voting rights package that would overhaul federal elections and combat state voting restrictions. President Biden has called the Georgia voting law "Jim Crow in the 21st century."

This story is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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