U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday vowed \u0022to ensure that we protect every qualified American seeking to participate in our democracy\u0022 at a press conference announcing a Department of Justice lawsuit against Georgia over the state\u0026#039;s new voting law, which the Biden administration and civil rights advocates allege is meant to disenfranchise Black voters.\r\n\r\n\u0022Our careful assessment of facts and law demonstrates that Georgia\u0026#039;s law violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.\u0022\r\n—Kristen Clarke, DOJ\r\n\r\n\u0022The rights of all eligible citizens to vote are the central pillars of our democracy. They are the rights from which all other rights ultimately flow,\u0022 Garland said, lamenting \u0022the dramatic rise in state legislative actions that will make it harder for millions of citizens to cast a vote that counts.\u0022\r\n\r\nEarlier this year, the GOP-controlled Georgia state Legislature passed, and Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law, Senate Bill 202, which critics called \u0022a vicious attack on voting rights.\u0022\r\n\r\nThe law imposed new identification requirements for voters casting ballots by mail, limited the use of absentee ballot drop-boxes, introduced new challenges to voting eligibility, prohibited mobile voting vans, barred local governments from receiving private sector grants, and even outlawed handing out food and water to people waiting in what can be notoriously long lines to vote.\u0026nbsp;\r\n\r\n\u0022Our complaint alleges that recent changes to Georgia\u0026#039;s election laws were enacted with the purpose of denying or abridging the right of Black Georgians to vote on account of their race or color, in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act,\u0022 Garland said Friday.\r\n\r\n\u0022Our progress on protecting voting rights, especially for Black Americans and people of color, has never been steady,\u0022 he continued. \u0022Moments of voting rights expansion have often been met with counter-measures to curb the franchise.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022Where we see violations of federal law, we will act,\u0022 Garland said, calling the new lawsuit \u0022the first of many steps to ensure that all eligible voters can cast a vote.\u0022\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nThe attorney general noted that the U.S. Supreme Court significantly weakened the Civil Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder, a 2013 ruling that effectively neutralized Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.\r\n\r\nAccording to the Brennan Center for Justice, Section 5 requires \u0022certain jurisdictions with a history of discrimination to submit any proposed changes in voting procedures to the U.S. Department of Justice or a federal district court in [Washington,] D.C. before it goes into effect to ensure the change would not harm minority voters.\u0022\r\n\r\nGarland urged Congress \u0022to act to provide the [Justice] Department with the authority it needs to protect the voting rights of every American.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022If Georgia had still been covered by Section 5, it is likely that S.B. 202 would never have taken effect,\u0022 he asserted. \u0022We urge Congress to restore this valuable tool.\u0022\r\n\r\nAssistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Kristen Clarke spoke after Garland on Friday, declaring that the Justice Department \u0022will spare no effort to protect voting rights in this country.\u0022\r\n\r\nClarke alleged that Georgia state lawmakers \u0022violated normal practice and procedure\u0022 while passing S.B. 202, which she said was \u0022adopted with the intent to deny or abridge Black citizens equal access\u0022 to the voting process and push African-American voters to in-person voting, \u0022where they are more likely than white voters to face long lines.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022Our careful assessment of facts and law demonstrates that Georgia\u0026#039;s law violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act,\u0022 she concluded.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nCivil and voting rights advocates applauded the lawsuit.\r\n\r\n\u0022The Justice Department now has leaders with tremendous experience in civil rights enforcement, and we are very pleased to have them enter the fray the side of our democracy,\u0022 said Andrea Young, executive director of the ACLU of Georgia, in a statement.\r\n\r\nCliff Albright and LaTosha Brown, co-founders of Black Voters Matter, said in a statement that \u0022we\u0026#039;ve always known that these voter restriction bills were unconstitutional at their core.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022Today\u0026#039;s announcement is not only an affirmation of the work we do each and every day to protect voting rights; it\u0026#039;s a stern warning to other states,\u0022 they said. \u0022Any state or local governments pursuing voter suppression legislation must be prepared to defend Jim Crow in court, because we simply will not let this go.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022As we make our way toward Washington on our Freedom Ride for Voting Rights tour, we are urging the Biden-Harris administration and members of Congress to continue to stand up for voters and protect our voting power through the passage of the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act,\u0022 Albright and Brown asserted. \u0022We need to dismantle all barriers that prevent free and fair access to the ballot box. The fight continues.\u0022\r\n\r\nThe DOJ\u0026#039;s move came days after U.S. Senate Republicans blocked debate on the For the People Act—a sweeping pro-democracy bill that would strengthen and expand voting rights and thwart GOP voter suppression efforts—furthering Democratic lawmakers\u0026#039; and rights activists\u0026#039; call for an end to the filibuster.