DOJ sues Georgia over voter suppression law

The United States Department of Justice announced on Friday that it is suing the state of Georgia over its recently-passed voter suppression law.

USA Today reports:

The Justice Department is suing the state of Georgia in an effort to overturn a sweeping state law that federal officials claim restricts Black voters’ access to the polls.

“The rights of all citizens to vote are the central pillars of our democracy,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said Friday, adding that recent changes to Georgia law amounted to voter suppression.

“This lawsuit is the first step of many we are taking to ensure that all eligible voters can cast a vote; that all lawful votes are counted; and that every voter has access to accurate information.”  

The government alleges that the state law was passed with “discriminatory purpose … that departed from normal practice and procedure.”

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, chief of DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, said Friday the state acted with the “intent” to deny Black voters’ access.

As we reported back in March, Georgia’s voter suppression law makes it illegal to give water to voters who are waiting in line. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. The law also limits the use of convenient and secure ballot drop boxes, shortens the window to request a mail-in ballot, and restricts in-person early voting hours.

The Department of Justice’s lawsuit is an important step to ensure that voting rights are upheld. We encourage the DOJ to pursue lawsuits in other states – including critically important swing states like Arizona and Florida – where voter suppression has become the primary strategy for Republicans to retain power.

Analysis News

Tennessee becomes the latest state to censor teachers on race

Tennessee is the latest state to ban teaching critical race theory in public schools. The Republican-controlled legislature passed the bill and Governor Bill Lee signed it into law.

The Tennessee law effectively censors public school teachers who would like to facilitate a discussion on race – particularly white privilege and patriarchy. A teacher who violates the law risks losing funding for their school.

According to the Associated Press:

The legislation, which was amended several times in the final days of the legislative session, takes effect July 1. Among other things, Tennessee’s teachers can’t instruct that “an individual, by virtue of the individual’s race or sex, is inherently privileged, racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or subconsciously.”

“Impartial discussion of controversial aspects of history” is still permitted under the law, and limits on teacher speech won’t apply when a teacher is responding to a student’s question or referring to a historic figure or group.

However, the penalty for a transgression is steep: The state education commissioner could withhold funds from any school found to be in violation.

NPR reports that similar laws are now on the books in Idaho and Oklahoma, “and they’re advancing in half a dozen other states.” The laws could greatly limit classroom discussions on racism, civil rights, and how structural racism affects society as teachers fear potential penalties.

Teaching versus indoctrination

According to the AP, Governor Lee argued that students should learn “the exceptionalism of our nation,” not things that “inherently divide.”

Teachers are supposed to educate, facilitate honest discussions, and encourage critical thinking skills. Teaching “American exceptionalism” is nothing more than indoctrination and jingoism. There is no educational value to it. It is the American equivalent to North Korean or Chinese state-sponsored propaganda.

Politicians should stay out of the classroom and let teachers do their job.

Photo Credit: Jason Mrachina, Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0