The Voting Rights Act of 1965 had a key section struck down in a ruling from the US Supreme Court, it was announced Tuesday.
The ruling effectively ended oversight of certain states who, previously, if they seek to change their voting laws, must first go through federal channels.
The justices were heavily divided on the ruling, with five against four succeeding in nullifying a portion of the Voting Rights Act, declaring it unconstitutional.
The Voting Rights Act passed in 1965 was intended to guarantee enforcement of Fifteenth Amendment rights, which explicitly protects citizens from discrimination directed at preventing minorities from participating in voting in elections.
The Voting Rights Act was put in place to protect minorities in states that, at the time, were still dealing with the end of legal public segregation.
It included a list of states identified from voter and census data to have practices limiting minority voter turnout, primarily Southern states.
This list makes up Section Four of 1965’s Voting Rights Act, the provision struck down by the Supreme Court Tuesday. The ruling, however, leaves the rest of the Act in place including Section Five which deals with the enforcement that limits discriminatory state voter laws.
The justices voting in the majority to strike down Section Four, including Chief Justice John Roberts, argued that the list of states who must face federal oversight is based on outdated data, with the most recent update done in 1972, reported the New York Times.
The ruling, having left in tact Section Five, the enforcement provision, now puts the ball in Congress’ court. It will now be up to legislators in Washington to redefine and reexamine how and what states, if any, should be subjected to federal voting law oversight.
The ruling favors those who felt that the Voting Rights Act breached state’s rights and subjected them to unfair treatment from the federal government.
Critics of the ruling say that, even though the enforcement provision in the Voting Rights Act was not axed, without a directive on which states need enforcement, it is meaningless.
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