A key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act has been struck down by the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision.
The justices have invalidated the requirement that certain states get federal approval before they make changes to their voting policies. The decision calls on Congress to create a new formula for deciding which states should be affected by this requirement.
The ruling marks the boldest step yet by the conservative majority under Chief Justice John Roberts to cut back the legal protections that have benefited racial minorities since the civil rights era in the 1960s. The decision blocks a tool the Justice Department has used to halt thousands of state and local voting changes, including identification laws in Texas and South Carolina last year, as discriminatory.
“Our country has changed, and while any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions,” Roberts wrote for the court.
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