WASHINGTON (June 25, 2013)—The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that 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 election monitoring.
The justices said in the 5-4 ruling Tuesday that the law Congress most recently renewed in 2006 relies on 40-year-old data that don’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 justices said lawmakers must update the formula for determining which parts of the country must seek Washington's approval for election changes.
President Barack Obama said Tuesday he's deeply disappointed with the Supreme Court decision.
Mr. Obama said in a statement Tuesday that voting discrimination in the U.S. still exists and said the high court's ruling is a setback but that efforts to end voting discrimination will continue.
Mr. Obama said the decision overturns well-established practices that for decades have helped making voting fair in places where historically there has been discrimination and he called on Congress to pass laws to ensure every American has equal voting access.
"As a nation, we’ve made a great deal of progress towards guaranteeing every American the right to vote," he said.
"But, as the Supreme Court recognized, voting discrimination still exists. And while today’s decision is a setback, it doesn’t represent the end of our efforts to end voting discrimination," he said.
The decision Tuesday may clear the way for Texas to enforce voter identification laws and political maps that federal judges said discriminate against minorities.
Until Congress comes up with a new formula to decide which states require preclearance, Texas may enforce new laws without it. Citizens may still challenge those laws in court after they take effect.
Texas had appealed two federal court rulings blocking new political maps and voter ID laws.