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Supreme Court Weakens Voting Rights Act

Lauren Madow |
June 25, 2013 | 4:47 p.m. PDT

Deputy Editor

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion (U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit via Wikimedia Commons)
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion (U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit via Wikimedia Commons)
The U.S. Supreme Court voted to repeal a provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which ensured federal oversight of state voting laws. The provision was specifically designed to protect black voters' rights in southern states.

The Court was closely divided, but in a 5-4 vote opted to void the provision. Texas has already moved to implement the altered law, which Attorney General Greg Abbott says will go into effect immediately.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek:

The ruling marks one of the biggest civil rights decisions in decades. It’s the boldest step yet by Chief Justice John Roberts’s conservative majority to cut back legal protections that have benefited racial minorities since 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.

In a dissenting opinion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote:

The sad irony of today’s decision lies in its utter failure to grasp why the VRA has proven effective...Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because are not getting wet.

President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric J. Holder voiced their disappointment with the Court's decision as well. Obama urged Congress to act quickly to protect voters' rights.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion, stating that the Court has "serious doubts about the Act's continued constitutionality" because "things have changed dramatically" in the south's racial climate.

For a fuller consideration of today's decision and its implications, see the Atlantic Wire.

For opinions and analyses, see Supreme Court's SCOTUSblog.

For more Neon Tommy coverage of the Supreme Court, go here.

To reach Deputy Editor Lauren Madow, go here. Follow her here.



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