Updated Mar 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden calls Georgia's voting restrictions "Jim Crow in the 21st Century"

Photo of Joe Biden speaking into a microphone
Photo: Oliver Contreras/Sipa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden condemned Georgia's voter restrictions Friday, calling the newly-signed law "Jim Crow in the 21st century."

The big picture: Georgia is the first battleground state to pass such a law in the aftermath of the 2020 election. The law imposes new ID requirements, limits the use of ballot drop boxes and bans non-poll workers from giving food and water to voters in line, among other restrictions.

  • Civil rights groups filed lawsuits over the restrictions almost immediately after Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed the legislation into law.

What he's saying: "This law, like so many others being pursued by Republicans in statehouses across the country is a blatant attack on the Constitution and good conscience," Biden said in a statement.

  • "Recount after recount and court case after court case upheld the integrity and outcome of a clearly free, fair, and secure democratic process," he added.
  • "Yet instead of celebrating the rights of all Georgians to vote or winning campaigns on the merits of their ideas, Republicans in the state instead rushed through an un-American law to deny people the right to vote."
  • "It must end. We have a moral and Constitutional obligation to act," he said, urging Congress to pass laws to expand access to the ballot box.
  • "If you have the best ideas, you have nothing to hide. Let the people vote."

Gov. Brian Kemp in a tweeted statement Friday said, "There is nothing 'Jim Crow'" about the law.

  • "It is obvious that neither President Biden nor his handlers have actually read SB 202," he added.
  • "As Governor, I won't back down from keep Georgia elections secure, accessible, and fair."

What to watch: Biden told reporters later Friday that the Justice Department was examining the Georgia restrictions.

  • "We don't know quite exactly what we can do at this point," Biden said when asked by a reporter if there was anything the White House could do to address the law. "The Justice Department's taking a look as well.”

Editor's note: This story has been updated with Gov. Kemp's statement.

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