As you’re discussing, through the unrelenting efforts of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division – under the leadership of Acting Assistant Attorney General Molly Moran, from whom you’ll be hearing this afternoon – my colleagues and I are acting aggressively to ensure that every American can exercise his or her right to participate in the democratic process, unencumbered by unnecessary restrictions that discourage, discriminate, or disenfranchise. We’re advancing this fight – as we speak – along a number of fronts in communities across the nation. This work has been a top priority since the moment I took office, nearly six years ago. And these efforts show significant promise.
For instance – just this week – a federal appeals court in Cincinnati held that plaintiffs challenging the State of Ohio’s changes to its in-person early voting rules likely will be able to prove that those changes are unconstitutional. This outcome was a milestone in the effort to protect voting rights even after the Supreme Court’s deeply misguided decision in Shelby County. The Justice Department filed an amicus brief supporting those who brought this challenge under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The appeals court’s ruling means that early voting can begin in Ohio on Tuesday, just as it had in prior election cycles.
Separately, in Wisconsin, we are carefully monitoring a challenge to that state’s voter identification law. Although we were disappointed by the 7th Circuit’s action two weeks ago to lift the stay and allow the law to go into effect, we look forward to reviewing the court’s reasoning when it issues an opinion.
In Texas, we are currently awaiting a ruling on the department’s challenge to certain of the state’s redistricting maps, which were found by a federal court to be drawn with discriminatory intent. And closing arguments concluded on Monday in our challenge to the Texas voter ID law – which our experts found would likely disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of eligible voters who lack the requisite identification.
Finally – just yesterday – in a case that’s pending in North Carolina, the 4th Circuit heard oral arguments in a challenge to that state’s voter ID measure. We joined several groups last year in challenging that law and, although we did not prevail at the preliminary injunction phase, we believe that the evidence at trial next summer will show a violation of the Voting Rights Act.