Civil rights activist and Greenville native Jesse Jacksoncalled it a fitting Christmas present, while Gov. Nikki Haley said she is trying to improve things in South Carolina but "the president and his bullying administration are fighting us every step of the way."
The state's new voter ID law requires a state-issued driver's license or ID card, a U.S. military ID, or a U.S. passport.
The Justice Department in its ruling said the law makes it harder for minorities to cast ballots. Without the right ID, tens of thousands of minorities in the state might not be able to vote, the Justice Department said.
Haley said it's another example, along with the decision of a U.S. district judge Thursday blocking parts of the state's new immigration law, of President Barack Obamaviolating states rights.
"It is outrageous, and we plan to look at every possible option to get this terrible, clearly political decision overturned so we can protect the integrity of our electoral process and our 10th amendment rights," Haley said.
Jackson said he sees a different pattern, one in which states that once denied minorities the right to vote are trying to suppress that right by making it more difficult to vote.
The Justice Department weighed in on the South Carolina law because it must approve changes in states that failed in the past to protect the voting rights of blacks. The Justice Department also is examining the new voter ID law in Texas.
Jackson, founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, said the South Carolina voter ID law makes it harder for senior citizens to vote and makes it more difficult for college students to register to vote, but he said it is mostly about racial discrimination.
"It's race-based, but it's not limited to that," Jackson told GreenvilleOnline.com.
Jackson said he was pleased with the Justice Department's decision and the decision Thursday of U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel that put on hold the part of South Carolina's new immigration law that would authorize law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of people they pull over if they suspect they are in the country illegally.
"In many ways these losses (for the state) represent a Christmas present in the best tradition of what Christmas is about, to liberate the poor," Jackson said.
Sen. Larry Martin of Pickens, who said Thursday the dispute over the immigration law will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, vowed Friday to fight the Justice Department's decision. The state will take the voter ID law to the high court, if necessary, he said.
Martin said officials made the voter ID requirements as "least burdensome as we could" by making the photo ID free and offering rides to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
"You can't do much of anything without providing identification with you," Martin told GreenvilleOnline.com. "You can't cash a check; you can't get on an airplane. There's a host of things you just can't do without some sort of identification."
Dick Harpootlian, chairman of the state Democratic Party, took some shots Friday at Haley and Republicans in the state Legislature over the decisions on the immigration and voter ID laws.
"The Justice Department has found that this bill was an effort, not based on even one documented case of voter fraud, but rather a transparent effort to deny disadvantaged and minority South Carolinians from voting," he said.