Prior to 2013, one of the ways in which the Voting Rights Act guarded against discriminatory voting laws and procedures was to require certain state and local governments to obtain prior approval (“preclearance”) from the Justice Department or a federal court before changing their election rules.
After the Attorney General declined to preclear new state voter verification procedures in Georgia, the state sued in June 2010 seeking preclearance or, alternatively, a ruling that the preclearance requirement is unconstitutional. To defend the Voting Rights Act, the ACLU intervened in the case on behalf of three Georgia residents, the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP, the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials, and the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda.
In August 2010 the Attorney General precleared an amended proposal and moved to dismiss the case as moot. Some intervenors criticized the preclearance and asked the court to investigate the circumstances of the Attorney General’s approval, but the court declined and dismissed the case. We did not join the request for an investigation because we believed—as the court did—that the court had no authority to conduct such an investigation.