Court Takes Ax to Voting Rights Act

Says Congress needs to change it
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 25, 2013 9:49 AM CDT
Court Takes Ax to Voting Rights Act
People wait outside the Supreme Court in Washington as key decisions are expected to be announced Monday, June 24, 2013.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(Newser) – The Supreme Court dealt what looks like a mortal wound to the Voting Rights Act today, striking down the law's key enforcement metric. The court did not, as some had expected, strike down Section 5, which gives the federal government oversight over states and localities with a history of voter discrimination. Instead, in a 5-4 decision, the court's conservative justices ruled that the formula used to determine which places require oversight is out of date, CNN explains. (The Washington Post has a quick primer on the law's specifics.)

"Our country has changed," John Roberts wrote in his majority opinion, according to NBC. Congress must ensure that any law passed to fight racial discrimination "speaks to current conditions." The ruling puts the onus on Congress to re-draft the formula, and pretty much no one is optimistic about the deeply divided body's ability to do that. On Twitter, Dave Weigel voiced the conventional wisdom thusly: "SCOTUS to Congress: 'You have to pass a bill to fix this.' Congress: 'We can... pass... bills?'" (Read more Voting Rights Act stories.)

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