Supreme Court Invalidates Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act

Earlier today, the Supreme Court invalidated part of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). Congress renewed the law in 2006, and according to the Supreme Court, used formulas for determining the ratio of minority voter turnout that were outdated by at least 40 years. The decision, while not invalidating the entire VRA, raises serious doubts as to its continued viability.

In the decision, Chief Justice Roberts noted that Sections 4 and 5 (formulas for determining appropriateness of voter laws and federal pre-clearance, respectively) were intended as temporary measures. Not only were the Sections designed as temporary measures, the Court further noted that they were intended to work together. Thus, as Justice Thomas points out in his concurrence, Section 5 no longer has a leg upon which to stand.

Just how this decision impacts voter laws in the south remains to be seen. But for now, the Federal Government has lost its justification to continue enforcing Section 5 of the VRA.

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