The Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act on Tuesday, the provision of the landmark civil rights law that designates which parts of the country must have changes to their voting laws cleared by the federal government or in federal court.
The 5-4 ruling, authored by Chief Justice John Roberts joined by Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, found that “things have changed dramatically” in the South nearly 50 years after the Voting Rights Act was signed.
The court’s opinion said it did not strike down the act of Congress “lightly,” and said it “took care to avoid ruling on the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act” in a separate case back in 2009. “Congress could have updated the coverage formula at that time, but did not do so. Its failure to act leaves us today with no choice but to declare [Section 4] unconstitutional. The formula in that section can no longer be used as a basis for subjecting jurisdictions to preclearance.”
Congress, the court ruled, “may draft another formula based on current conditions.”
“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,” the majority said.
“There is no doubt that these improvements are in large part because of the Voting Rights Act. The Act has proved immensely successful at redressing racial discrimination and integrating the voting process,” Roberts wrote.
That’s why we’re gutting it, Roberts didn’t add.
More: Voting Rights Act Section 4 Struck Down by Supreme Court
UPDATE at 6/25/13 10:44:40 am
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder addressed the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down a key provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act.
The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that Section 4 of the landmark Voting Rights Act was unconstitutional and that Congress was tasked to come up with a new way of determining which states and localities require federal monitoring of elections.