Voting Rights Act Provision Struck Down by U.S. Supreme Court
By Greg Stohr - Jun 25, 2013 10:11 AM ET
Civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King and his wife Coretta Scott King at a black voting rights march from Selma, Alabama, to the state capital in Montgomery, on March 1965. Photographer: William Lovelace/Express via Getty Images
A divided U.S. Supreme Court threw out a core part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, rolling back a landmark law that opened the polls to millions of southern blacks.
The justices, voting 5-4, effectively invalidated the law’s requirement that officials in much of the country get federal approval before changing their election rules. The majority said Congress’s formula for determining which states were covered was outdated. It left open the possibility that Congress could enact a new formula.
The ruling marks the boldest step yet by the conservative majority under Chief Justice John Roberts to cut back the legal protections that have benefited racial minorities since the civil rights era in the 1960s. The decision blocks a tool the Justice Department has used to halt thousands of state and local voting changes, including identification laws in Texas and South Carolina last year, as discriminatory.
“Our country has changed, and while any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions,” Roberts wrote for the court.
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