Ariane de Vogue for CNN:
When Attorney General Merrick Garland appeared before cameras Friday to announce a lawsuit challenging Georgia’s new voting restrictions, it was the timing and the Justice Department’s strategy that intrigued voting rights experts.
That’s because the lawsuit — triggering the latest dispute about the scope of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act — came as the Supreme Court is poised to release an opinion on the very same section of the law. The opinion — in one of the marquee cases of the term — will come down next week. In addition, Garland timed his announcement to the exact eight-year anniversary of the court’s last big voting rights case. In the landmark decision called Shelby County v. Holder, Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for a 5-4 majority, effectively gutted a separate section of the law and declared that “things have changed in the South.”
Garland wanted to send a clear message Friday: Roberts was wrong. “I express concern about the dramatic rise in state legislative actions that will make it harder for millions of citizens to cast a vote that counts,” the attorney general said….
But even if Carvin wins and the Supreme Court pares down the kinds of cases that can be brought under the “results test,” that may not impact Garland’s suit, and that’s why it was carefully crafted. Because instead of relying on the “results test,” the Justice Department made a different argument: It said Georgia legislators passed the law with the “intent” to discriminate.
That’s a different test under the law.
“The courts will consider a different set of factors in order to determine whether Georgia’s legislature intentionally discriminated against Black voters in the state,” said Sean Morales-Doyle, of the Brennan Center for Justice.”
The question of discriminatory intent could come up in the Brnovich case, but the focus of that case has been on the ‘results test,’ ” he said. “That means the Supreme Court’s decision is unlikely to impact the likelihood of success in the new case.”Rick Hasen, a voting rights expert at the UC Irvine School of Law, said in a blog post that because the Justice Department had brought its case only under the “intent test,” it “insulates it from an adverse ruling in Brnovich.” That means the new suit could go forward even “after a potentially adverse ruling.”