South Carolina Sues Justice Department Over Voter-ID Law Block

South Carolina sued the U.S. Justice Department over its decision to block a law requiring voters to show photo identification at polls, the state’s attorney general said.

The Justice Department said in December that it was blocking the South Carolina statute because the law would “significantly” burden non-white voters. It was the first time the Obama administration intervened against any of eight states that enacted new voter-ID laws or tightened existing ones last year.

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson said in a statement that he filed the suit today in federal court in Washington against the Justice Department and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, seeking a declaration that the law won’t harm the voting rights of minorities. The complaint couldn’t be immediately verified with the court.

“The DOJ has denied citizens in South Carolina protection of a law that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld in Indiana, and the DOJ itself pre-cleared for Georgia,” Wilson said. “Nothing in this law prevents anyone from voting if they cannot immediately show a valid photo identification.”

The American Civil Liberties Union said it will seek to intervene in the South Carolina case to protect the rights of minorities and uphold the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

“The Department of Justice followed the letter and spirit of the law when it rejected South Carolina’s discriminatory voter-ID law,” Nancy Abudu, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said in a statement.

Xochitl Hinojosa, a Justice Department spokeswoman, declined to comment.

The case is South Carolina v. U.S., U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Dolmetsch in New York at cdolmetsch@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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