US Supreme Court demolishes Voting Rights Act
President Obama 'deeply disappointed' by ruling
The Voting Rights Act, one of the pillars of America’s attempts in the 1960s to end de facto discrimination against its minority communities and in particular blacks, was more or less demolished by a ruling from the US Supreme Court which said the formula deciding which parts of the country it applied to was out of date.
Barack Obama, who grew up in the civil rights era to become the first black US president, said he was “deeply disappointed”. In a statement, he added: “For nearly 50 years, the Voting Rights Act – enacted and repeatedly renewed by wide bipartisan majorities in Congress – has helped secure the right to vote for millions of Americans. The decision invalidating one of its core provisions upsets decades of well-established practices that help make sure voting is fair, especially in places where voting discrimination has been historically prevalent.”
The key Section 5 of the Act that obliges certain states, mostly in the South, and some counties and cities, including Manhattan in New York, to seek permission from the federal government before changing anything to do with how citizens vote in elections was not touched by the Justices. But in a 5-4 vote along left-right lines, the Court said that when the US Congress renewed the 1965 Act seven years ago it should have revised its geographical coverage.
Because Congress would struggle to agree on any such re-casting of the formula the likely effect of the ruling will be to nullify the Voting Rights Act, which was a response to years of manipulation of election laws in some parts of the US to deter minorities from voting.. While it was a major disappointment to civil rights advocates and the White House it please those who argue that the Act was a relic of an bygone time and amounted to a smear on those parts of the country bound by it.
“Congress did not use the record it compiled to shape a coverage formula grounded in current conditions,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority. “It instead re-enacted a formula based on 40-year-old facts having no logical relationship to the present day.” As well as most of the South – the case was bought by a town in southern Alabama – the Act also covers Manhattan, Brooklyn, some counties in California and South Dakota, and towns in Michigan and New Hampshire.
“I think what we must do is really put pressure on Congress now to deal with this,” Al Sharpton a leading civil rights acvitist and an anchor for MSNBC News said after the decision was unveiled. “This is a devastating blow to those of us that need that protection, especially given the voter suppression schemes that we saw in 2012.”
- 1 Universities aren't working us hard enough, say undergraduates
- 2 Lego letter from the 1970s still offers a powerful message to parents 40 years later
- 4 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
- 5 Grayson Perry: London needs affordable housing because 'rich people don't create culture'
Heroin to be prescribed to Canadian addicts by doctors
Tower Bridge glass walkway 'smashed' by night-time visitor dropping bottle of beer
Charing Cross fire: Station closed and 100 evacuated over blaze on train
Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby – through the stories of his accusers
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
Rochester aftermath: Sacking of Emily Thornberry will make work of Labour MPs '10 times harder'
Revealed: How the world gets rich – from privatising British public services
£25k + commission + benefits: Savvy Media Ltd: Find a job you love and never h...
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CORPORATE - Corporate Solicitor NQ+ An excelle...
Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...
£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...