In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The preclearance requirement in Section 5 was upheld, but the map of regions used to determine which areas of the country required to submit reapportionment proposals to the Department of Justice in the VRA’s Section 4 was struck down. The Supreme Court left it up to Congress to fix what they determined to be a broken system.
The opinion was written by Chief Justice John Roberts.
The court did not strike down the advance approval requirement of the law that has been used, mainly in the South, to open up polling places to minority voters in the nearly half century since it was first enacted in 1965. But they said lawmakers must update the formula for determining which parts of the country must seek Washington’s approval for election changes.
Under the law, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, nine mostly Southern states must get permission from the Justice Department or a special panel of three federal judges before they make changes. The rule also applies to 12 cities and 57 counties elsewhere.
The act is considered the most important piece of civil rights legislation ever passed. Congress has renewed it four times, most recently in 2006, with overwhelming margins in both houses.
More updates to follow!