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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Supreme Court strikes down part of Voting Rights Act

This is historic. From the Wall Street Journal:

The Supreme Court upended a longstanding pillar of civil-rights era legislation, the 1965 Voting Rights Act, ruling that the decades-old formula that Congress used to identify areas of the country subject to stringent oversight of election procedures is no longer constitutional.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the 5-4 ruling for the court, which was divided along its usual ideological lines.

The law requires many localities, mostly in the South, to seek the approval of the U.S. Justice Department before making any changes to their voting procedures.

And Georgia is one of those states. If Congress wants to fix the problem, it needs to pass legislation, the ruling said. Here's the entire ruling.

Expect more as various sides issue their own opinions and predictions. We'll update throughout the day.

UPDATE, 10:52 a.m.: ABC News' Jeff Zeleny tweets:

UPDATE 11:27 a.m.: Says Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens, a critic of the VRA, in a statement:

When the Voting Rights Act was passed in the 1960s, several states and local jurisdictions, including Georgia, discriminated against minority voters. Discrimination is wrong, and Section 5 was an appropriate response.

I am pleased, however, that the Supreme Court recognized today that, "[n]early 50 years later, things have changed dramatically."

The Voting Rights Act will continue to protect the rights of all voters in all states, but will no longer treat some states differently based on outdated formulas that, thankfully, no longer reflect current practices.

Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act makes clear that racial discrimination in voting is illegal nationwide, and remains a strong and effective tool to counter discrimination.

UPDATE, 11:56 a.m.: The New York Times has an excellent interactive graphic that looks at the formula that the justices struck down.

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