Hearing in Lawsuit Challenging Georgia Anti-Voting Rights Law Weighs Impact of Line Relief Restrictions
GEORGIA — The United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia will be hearing motions for a preliminary injunction in the consolidated litigation challenging SB 202 (In Re Georgia Senate Bill 202). This hearing will consider the “line relief” provision that criminalizes those who provide voters waiting in line with food and water, which disproportionately impacts communities of color in Georgia who face some of the longest waiting times at the ballot box in the country.
SB 202 creates significant barriers for Black, Latinx and other voters of color to cast their ballots in Georgia. Among other things, it undermines absentee voting, early voting, voting on election day, and allows the state to take over county elections. It was signed by Governor Brian Kemp as part of a sweeping trend of over 400 new anti-voting laws across 49 states introduced in the wake of the 2020 presidential election, silencing the rising majority of Black, Latinx, Asian, and Indigenous voters.
Advancement Project National Office, Crowell & Moring LLP, and Kastorf Law, LLC represent The Concerned Black Clergy of Metropolitan Atlanta plaintiffs in their legal challenge to SB 202. Monday’s hearing will consider a motion for preliminary injunction filed by the Sixth District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (et al.) and Georgia State Conference of the NAACP (et al.), which the Concerned Black Clergy plaintiffs proudly support, as well as a motion for preliminary injunction filed by the New Georgia Project (et al.).
“Our clients support this motion for preliminary injunction because criminalizing people who provide food and water to voters who are waiting to cast their ballots is a direct restriction on the First Amendment right to freedom of speech,” said Jess Unger, Staff Attorney for the Power and Democracy program at Advancement Project National Office. “Long lines at voting sites are a significant obstacle to voters, many of whom are from communities that fought hard for the right to vote. In fact, voters of color in Georgia are six times more likely than white voters to wait more than one hour to vote. When these voters are brought food and water by our plaintiffs, they understand this to be a message of unconditional support, gratitude, and shared strength. It helps them stay in line and participate in the political process.”
“[I’ve seen] elderly voters and voters with disabilities struggling to stand in line for long periods, leaning on others to stand because they were told they could not have a chair. Their suffering in line was senseless. There is a need for people who directly address that suffering,” said Reverend Dr. Craig White, Dean of Christian Education of Plaintiff Metropolitan Atlanta Baptist Ministers Union. “Giving out water to voters is not just about water—it’s about giving out courage. Based on my experience, I believe that the line warming restrictions of SB 202 will ultimately suppress voter turnout in our communities…SB 202 does violence to me as a Black man, to my community, and to America as a whole.”
WHAT: Preliminary Injunction hearing in lawsuit challenging SB 202, anti-voting rights law in Georgia
WHEN: Monday, July 18 starting at 9 am ET
WHERE: Richard B. Russell Federal Building
2211 United States Courthouse
75 Ted Turner Drive, SW
Atlanta, GA 30303-3309
WHO: Plaintiffs from Metropolitan Atlanta Baptist Ministers Union