Gov. Sonny Perdue has directed Thurbert Baker to sue the Obama administration to implement citizenship checks for newly registering voters.
A spokesman for Baker said Thursday the Democrat hasn't decided whether to pursue the suit.
Last month, Baker refused the Republican governor's request to challenge a new federal health care law. He said the state lacked a viable legal claim. Perdue fired back that he will bypass the attorney general and hire an outside counsel to pursue a challenge on behalf of the state.
Baker's refusal to file a health care lawsuit prompted 31 Republican legislators to sign onto a bill that would impeach him.
The latest legal feud comes over the state's method of using federal identification numbers and driver's license data to confirm whether prospective voters are U.S. citizens.
Implemented in 2007, the state's voter verification system had checked new voters against information in databases held by the Georgia Department of Driver Services or Social Security Administration.
After a challenge was filed by voting rights groups in the weeks leading up to the 2008 elections, a federal three-judge panel said the state must seek Justice Department preclearance under the Voting Rights Act.
The Justice Department's Civil Rights Division rejected the checks in May and October of last year.
"This flawed system frequently subjects a disproportionate number of African-American, Asian and/or Hispanic voters to additional, and more importantly, erroneous burdens on the right to register to vote," Loretta King, acting assistant attorney general of the Justice Department's civil rights division, wrote in a May letter.
Georgia's new Secretary of State Brian Kemp said rather than going back to the Justice Department again, he wants to sue in federal court to implement the citizenship checks, as well as a separate law requiring newly registering voters to provide proof of citizenship.
Kemp accused the Justice Department of playing politics.
"I think we'll get a fairer shake going to the courts," Kemp said in an interview at his state Capitol office Thursday.
"I feel like this is the best way to remove politics from the process."
Kemp first asked Baker to sue in February.
In a March 19 reply, Baker said that after a legal analysis he believes seeking administrative preclearance with the Justice Department "has a much better chance of success and would be substantially quicker and less expensive" than litigation.
"No determination has been made one way or the other on Kemp's request," Baker spokesman Russ Willard said Thursday.
Perdue's letter to Baker - dated April 7 - ups the ante.
The state constitution says that the attorney general "shall represent the state in court" when required by the governor.