Attorney General Eric Holder (Larry Downing/REUTERS)
The U.S. Department of Justice will block the voter ID provisions of an election law passed in South Carolina earlier this year because the state’s own statistics demonstrated that the photo identification requirement would have a much greater impact on non-white residents, DOJ said in a letter to the state on Friday. [...]
Because Justice Department lawyers reached the conclusion that South Carolina’s voter ID law would have the effect of suppressing minority voter turnout, they found it was unnecessary to examine whether that was the intent of the legislators who voted for the law.
This is huge news for a number of reasons. First, obviously, because of the direct impact in South Carolina. Unless the state files suit or there is other arrangement with the Justice Department, those voter ID requirements are now dead. (And yes, they may file suit. We're talking about a state and a party that is very, very intent on disenfranchising as many voters as possible before the 2012 elections.)
Second, it finally shows a bit of movement on the part of the Justice Department in fighting these ridiculous new laws clearly targeted against poor and minority voters. There are eleven other states that have passed similar voter ID restrictions; we can only hope that this is the first of a series of actions.