News / USA

    US Supreme Court Strikes Down Part of Key Civil Rights Law

    US Supreme Court Strikes Down Key Voting Rights Provisioni
    X
    June 25, 2013 9:06 PM
    The U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday struck down a provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, perhaps the most important piece of civil rights legislation ever passed by Congress. VOA’s Brian Padden reports that the court ruled the law cannot be enforced until Congress comes up with a new way for determining which states and localities require close federal monitoring of elections.
    The U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday struck down a key provision in the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most significant civil rights laws ever passed by Congress.  The law is designed to ensure the rights of minority voters but critics have argued that some aspects of the law have become outdated.  

    The high court split along traditional conservative-liberal lines by a vote of five to four. The majority opinion was written by Chief Justice John Roberts who said the law relies on 40-year old data that does not reflect the racial changes that have occurred in much of the country.

    The law was enacted in 1965 to address glaring problems, primarily in southern states where African-Americans were routinely blocked from voting.  The law sets out standards for close federal monitoring of voting and has been reauthorized by Congress several times since.

    This latest Supreme Court decision strikes down a part of the law that sets the formula for which states and localities must make changes in voting procedures.  But the high court did not strike down another section of the law that requires states and localities to get pre-clearance from the federal government for any voting changes they may want to make.

    Civil rights groups were disheartened by the ruling. 

    “We are deeply disappointed by the court’s decision today," said Sherrilyn Ifill, who is with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and spoke to reporters in front of the Supreme Court. "Make no mistake about what has happened.  The court has decided that it stands in a better position than Congress to determine how to protect voting discrimination.”

    The Supreme Court decision leaves it up to Congress to change the part of the law that it finds out of date.

    The White House issued a statement that said President Barack Obama was disappointed by the decision and called on Congress to ensure all Americans have equal access to the polls.

    U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the law remains a useful tool to block discriminatory voting practices.

    “These problems have not been consigned to history," he said. "They continue to exist.  Their effects are real.  They are of today, not yesterday, and they corrode the foundations of our democracy.”

    Conservative groups welcomed the high court decision.  

    “Back in 1965, an average black man in many areas in the United States couldn’t vote because there were things that were put in their way and various impediments to their voting," said David Almasi, executive director of the National Center for Public Policy Research in Washington. "Now we have a black president and we have in those same areas that were considered discriminatory back in 1965, we have black office holders that are very common.  We live in a much different world that needs to be figured into things.”

    Almasi is also skeptical that Congress will move quickly to update the Voting Rights Act given that the House of Representatives is controlled by Republicans.

    “We are looking at some potential problems because it is a hot issue and Congress tends to not want to deal with the hot issues," he said. "I think people need to realize that it is not the same world as it was back in 1965.”

    The voting rights case was one of the most closely-watched cases of this Supreme Court term.  The high court will close out its annual session on Wednesday with two more highly-anticipated rulings on same sex marriage.

    Jim Malone

    Jim Malone has served as VOA’s National correspondent covering U.S. elections and politics since 1995. Prior to that he was a VOA congressional correspondent and served as VOA’s East Africa Correspondent from 1986 to 1990. Jim began his VOA career with the English to Africa Service in 1983.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora