The DOJ under former President Barack Obama supported the appeals court ruling, noting that in 2010 the department had issued guidance that “addresses the precise issue presented in this case and articulates the department’s position that states must have reliable evidence indicating a voter’s change of address before they initiate the NVRA-prescribed process to cancel the voter’s registration based on a change of residence.”

However, Ohio appealed to the Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case, and the new DOJ—headed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whose history with regard to civil rights has raised concerns since President Donlad Trump nominated him—has now revised its guidance for the law. The shift may not have widespread department support, though, as Ari Berman reported in Mother Jones: “Notably, no career lawyers from the Civil Rights Division signed the brief, as is customary, potentially signifying internal opposition to the department’s new position.”

It certainly has voting rights advocates worried. Gupta said: “The sudden shift in longstanding position because of a change in political administrations raises real concerns about the politicization of the Justice Department’s historic role in protecting voting rights.”

However, criticisms of the Trump administration and its Justice Department aren’t limited to this recent shift in policy, which follows a number of other voter-related measures that have been criticized as attacks on voting rights.

“Monday’s filing was further confirmation of some of our worst fears about the Trump administration’s crackdown on voting rights,” Gupta said. “Whether through repeated false statements about supposed mass illegal voting, creating a sham commission to pave the way for voter purges, or telling courts that it’s acceptable for states to remove eligible voters from the rolls without adequate evidence, the Trump administration is leading an attack on voting rights.”

“The Department of Justice’s latest reversal of its position in a critical voting rights case represents just the latest example of an agency whose leadership has lost its moral compass,” said Clarke.

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