Reaction to Supreme Court's Deicion on Voting Rights

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

The Supreme Court says a key provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act cannot be enforced until Congress comes up with a new way of determining which states and localities require close federal monitoring of elections.

The justices said in 5-4 ruling Tuesday that the law Congress most recently renewed in 2006 relies on 40-year-old data that doesn't reflect racial progress and changes in U.S. society.

The court did not strike down the advance approval requirement of the law that has been used, mainly in the South, to open up polling places to minority voters in the nearly half century since it was first enacted in 1965. But they said lawmakers must update the formula for determining which parts of the country must seek Washington's approval for election changes.

The Alabama county at the center of the Supreme Court's decision on voting rights is praising the decision.

Shelby County attorney Butch Ellis says the ruling Tuesday will save local and state governments time and money without hurting the cause of voting equality.

Ellis says he's "elated" with the ruling, in which the court said a key part of the law is invalid until it's updated by Congress.

The justices set aside a part of the landmark law that requires federal approval for changes to election practices in the South and some other areas.

Ellis says local governments have spent more than $1 billion seeking Justice Department approval of voting changes. He says money spent on lawyers in the past can now go to schools, police and fire protections.

In Washington, President Barack Obama says he's deeply disappointed with a Supreme Court decision halting the use of a key provision in the Voting Rights Act.

Obama says in a statement Tuesday that voting discrimination in the U.S. still exists. He says the high court's ruling is a setback but that efforts to end voting discrimination will continue.

Obama says the decision overturns well-established practices that for decades have helped making voting fair in places where historically there has been discrimination. He's calling on Congress to pass laws to ensure every American has equal voting access.

The justices said in a 5-4 ruling Tuesday that the provision can't be enforced until Congress comes up with a new way of determining which states and localities require close federal monitoring of election.


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