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Divided Supreme Court strikes down key part of Voting Rights Act

by AirTalk®

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Members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) hold signs in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington on June 25, 2013. The court struck down a key part of the Voting Rights Act, which guards against racial discrimination in US states with a segregationist past. In a hotly anticipated decision, the court ruled 5-4 that Section 4 of the 1965 law was unconstitutional, calling on Congress to redefine which states must seek government approval for changes to their electoral codes. NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

In a major decision today, the Supreme Court has eliminated an historic tool to prevent discrimination against minority voters. Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority in this 5-4 decision, said the provision at issue in the Act is outdated and overly burdensome. It requires certain local governments (including four in California) to get the okay from the federal government before changing voting laws, such as polling locations and times.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, speaking for the dissent today, said "Hubris is a fit word for today's demolition of the law" and added that the Act is the best remedy for discrimination. Will Congress take up the issue? What are recent instances of voter discrimination and what would remedy them?


James (Jim) Burling, Director of Litigation, Pacific Legal Foundation; PLF filed an amicus brief on the Shelby case; Founded in 1973, PLF is a public interest legal organization dedicated to limited government principles

Dale Ho, Managing Attorney, Voting Rights Project, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU); his work includes litigation under the Voting Rights Act; combating barriers to voter registration and ballot access; (double-checking: ACLU filed an amicus brief on the Shelby case.

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