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…

Posted June 25, 2013 at 10:16am ETC by Andy Towle
in Julie Bindel