Attorney General Eric Holder said the law would "break a system that was working" and "shrink, rather than expand access to the franchise."
“Today’s action is about far more than unwarranted voter restrictions," Holder said. "It is about our democracy, and who we are as a nation."
"I stand here to announce this lawsuit more in sorrow than in anger. It pains me to see the voting rights of my fellow citizens negatively impacted by actions predicated on a rationale that is tenuous at best -- and on concerns that we all know are not, in fact, real."
North Carolina has denied the law would discriminate against minorities, saying the law was necessary to ensure "no one's vote is disenfranchised by a fraudulent ballot."
The administration is also challenging a similar law in Texas, which, like the North Carolina law, was passed after the Supreme Court struck down part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that requires certain parts of the country with a history of discrimination get prior approval from the Justice Department before making any changes to voting laws and policies.
Exploding whale video goes viral on Internet
Jordana Brewster on Paul Walker: 'He was an enormous presence in my life'