The U.S. Justice Department is arguing before a federal judge in Winston-Salem this week that North Carolina's sweeping election overhaul will deny or curtail African-Americans' right to vote. The Justice Department and civil rights groups are asking the judge to put the changes on hold.
Reverend Milton Williams was among dozens of people stuck in line outside the courthouse, unable to get into the packed hearing.
He's a pastor at a predominantly African-American church, and he's against the election overhaul in part because it cuts early voting by a week.
“In our community, that's big,” he said. “When that is restricted and taken away, it seems to be punitive or directed at a certain class of people.”
About 70 percent all African-Americans in North Carolina who voted in the past two presidential elections voted early. That's one reason the U.S. Justice Department argues the new law will have a disproportionate impact on minorities.
The Justice Department, the NAACP, the League of Women Voters and others want to put the changes on hold until next summer, when a federal judge will decide if the law is constitutional.