Supreme Court Strikes Down Key Section of Voting Rights Act as Unconstitutional


In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act as unconstitutional. The law requires nine mostly-Southern states to obtain federal permission before changing voting procedures.


The vote was five to four, with the five conservative-leaning judges in the majority and the four liberal-leaning justices in the minority. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote the decision.

The majority held that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, originally passed in 1965 and since updated by Congress. The section includes a formula that determines which states must receive pre-approval.

The court did not strike down Section 5, which allows the federal government to require pre-approval. But without Section 4, which determines which states would need to receive clearance, Section 5 is largely without significant — unless Congress chooses to pass a new bill for determining which states would be covered.

Given the current partisan nature of Congress, reaching agreement on a new formula may be difficult.

Here's the ruling.

Our legal editor Ari Ezra Waldman will have analysis coming up…


  1. JONES says

    Scalia didn’t mind being a ‘judge moralist’ when it comes to voting discrimination apparently.

    How many beans in this jar Scalia?

  2. ChristopherM says

    Sure the formulas for figuring voting issues in southern states are outdated. We call tell it is a post racial society by the segregated proms they are still having down there. Jacka$$es.

  3. Eddie says

    As these rulings come out, I’m getting increasingly pessimistic regarding the DOMA and Prop 8 cases.

  4. Michael says

    Yes, Eddie, I don’t think tomorrow’s rulings are going to be in our favor. Looks bad.

  5. Kyle says

    Kennedy is definitely hanging with his conservative bros this term. He is getting more conservative with time.

  6. Jeyotu says

    Those “segregated” proms aren’t legally mandated by the state. It’s left up to the schools, parents and kids to decide how much they’d prefer to integrate.

  7. Moz's says

    the voting rights act provided a way for areas to be removed from preclearance

    do not have discrimination issues for a period of time and many areas complied and were removed from the need for preclearance

    the areas still requiring preclearance were still to this day showing obvious signs of racial discrimination


  8. kpo5 says

    I wouldn’t be pessimistic. All of these rulings have been pro-Corporate America. LGBT equality is in the best interest of businesses. Even the Koch bros believe that.

  9. Fight Them in the Streets says

    Man, you look at all the things that Republican-dominated legislatures have tried to do in the last two elections to make it more difficult for minorities not just to vote, but to REGISTER to vote. Willful blindness to the realities of minorities in a lot of places to claim that discrimination is no longer a problem. If anything, the Voting Rights Act needs to be expanded.

  10. Rick says

    Excellent decision.

    African-Americans have been moving TO the South for a couple of decades now, because they have better opportunities there and feel more at home.

    Great to see the Court thumb its collective nose at the White Liberal Elites in the Northeast and on the West Coast, with all their snotty, self-righteous, self-congratulatory, condescenscion towards the vast majority of the country.

    Eff you.

    And hopefully, the University of Texas affirmative action case was just a warm-up for the death knell that will be dealt to affirmative action in the next term with a University of Michigan case that will be decided on Constitutional grounds.

    Which, likewise, will not hurt minorities who are actually achievers, only the patronizing White Liberal Elites who promote affirmative action out of their contempt for the white middle class.

  11. ChristopherM says

    Wow, Rick defends the dismantling of the Voting Rights Act. News at 11 delivered to you by Paula Deen’s tap-dancing black waiters.

  12. Anthony says

    People. Get a grip. Entirely different issue, entirely different cases. Kennedy is well known to favor business. He has a history of support for gay rights and I think Scalia’s rant on Friday is a lot more telling than these opinions. Just saying.

  13. Rick says

    Don’t you pathetic liberal effeminates have any idea how hard it is for me? I’m a grown man and despite being the gayest gay who ever gayed, I’ve never even so much as kissed another man. And I blame black people. Because they remind me of all that I lack in the man department.

  14. JONES says

    Another horrendous ruling dictated by conservative pandering. Bout the only saving grace to this ruling was that Roberts left it open to Congress to rewrite section 4 with updated guidelines.

    There was a tell in Roberts statement about the gravity placed by SCOTUS to have to overturn an Act of Congress.

    Are they then in turn going to overturn two acts of congress in one session … VRA & DOMA? He may have been laying the groundwork here for passing the buck back to congress to act on DOMA or to dismiss the case on standing. Wouldn’t surprise me.

  15. Derrick from Philly says

    @ “Rick, why don’t just go put your face right up in Derrick’s black a$$? ”

    No, I think he’d prefer Clarence Thomas’ azz–I don’t have any gray hairs on mine yet… thank the Lord.

    And MateoM did not write that comment. You all are getting ridiculous with this imposter posting.

  16. anon says

    A somewhat bizarre ruling since it’s not based on a stringent legal philosophy and more on demographics. And, again with the 5-4. If we slowly in increase the number of justices to 15, these polarizing decisions will fade with time.

  17. THurts says

    I want to see how we feel later in the week when the decision does not go our way. This could be a precursor to what is coming. Let us not rejoice in civil rights being roll backed for any group.

  18. Michelle says

    I don’t think their decision is racist. I actually think they made some good arguments here.