Supreme Court Voids Provision of Voting Rights Act Unless Congress Takes Action

As reported in the Salisbury Daily Times, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision to void a key provision of the Voting Rights Act unless Congress takes action.

The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a key provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act cannot be enforced unless Congress comes up with an up-to-date formula for deciding which states and localities still need federal monitoring.

The justices said in 5-4 vote that the law Congress most recently renewed in 2006 relies on 40-year-old data that does not 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 the justices did say lawmakers must update the formula for determining which parts of the country must seek Washington’s approval, in advance, for election changes.

Chief Justice John Roberts said for the conservative majority that Congress “may draft another formula based on current conditions.”

A blog article in the Washington Post tries to decipher what this decision means for politics.  From the article:

“There will be lots of people on all sides looking at current section 5 covered districts and seeing whether they need to be redrawn to comply with the Constitution,” said the Democratic lawyer. “This will likely spur another round of redistricting changes and challenges in some places.”

What we do know is that those consequences will be primarily visited in the 9 states — Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia – that are entirely covered by the VRA. The impact could also be felt in the handful of counties in other states where pre-clearance is required.

The article includes a map showing states, in whole or in part, that will be affected.  Maryland is not covered by the Voting Rights Act.

Another Washington Post blog details “Everything You Need to Know About the Supreme Court Voting Rights Act Decision.

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