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is designed to ensure the rights of minority voters but critics have argued that some aspects of the law have become outdated.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The Supreme Court decision leaves it up to Congress to change the part of the law that it finds out of date.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.

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid