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GOP lawyer tells Supreme Court curtailing Sunday voting lawful
A Republican lawyer suggested to Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan on Tuesday that a Georgia state bill prohibiting early voting on Sundays was "lawful."
The exchange came during arguments of a potentially landmark Supreme Court case.
The Republican Party of Arizona is arguing for a pair of restrictive voting laws to be upheld after the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals struck them down last year, ruling that the laws violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
Section 2 prohibits states from passing voting rights legislation that results in the discrimination of minority populations.
Kagan posed a series of hypothetical questions to Michael Carvin, the GOP lawyer. One question appeared to mirror Georgia House Bill 531, which passed the state assembly's lower chamber on Monday.
The sweeping bill, if implemented, would impose a series of restrictive voting procedures.
Kagan spoke of a state that had long had "two weeks of early voting."
"And then the state decides that it's going to get rid of Sunday voting on those two weeks leave everything else in place. That black voters vote on Sunday 10 times more than white voters, is that system equally open?" she asked.
"I would think it would be because let's think about it," Carvin replied. "Sunday is the day that we traditionally closed government offices would be the exception rather than the rule to have government workers come in on Sunday."
Current Georgia law allows early voting to begin on the fourth Monday before a primary or general election. To Kagan's point, Black churches in the state often hold "souls to the polls" events on Sundays during the early voting period in an effort to drive Black voter turnout.
Black voters make up roughly 30 percent of the Peach State's electorate, but accounted for over 36 percent of Georgians who cast ballots in November's general election, according to Fair Fight Action - Stacey Abrams's voting rights group.
The proposed restrictions come after President Biden flipped the state blue on Election Day. Democrats also swept the state's Senate runoff elections on Jan. 5, giving the party tie-breaking control in the Senate.
The case comes as Democrats are trying to pass sweeping voting rights reform in Congress with two bills - H.R. 1 and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
In particular, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would restore the original federal preclearance rule that was detailed in Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
The preclearance required states and jurisdictions with noted history of racial discrimination - largely the Jim Crow South - to gain approval from the Department of Justice before implementing any changes to its voting procedures.