In a 5-4 decision, they declared it unconstitutional.
What this means:
From The Plum Line Blog
Supreme Court gives big boost to `war on voting’
By Greg Sargent, Published: June 25, 2013 at 12:05 pmE-mail the writer
The Supreme Court just struck down a key section of the Voting Rights Act, ruling that the requirement that many states across the south get prior federal approval for voting law changes is unconstitutional.
The substance of the decision, which split the court five to four, will be widely picked over, so I wanted to focus instead on the practical consequences of it going forward. Voting rights advocates expect the decision to give a major boost to efforts by conservatives across the country to pass laws restricting access to the franchise — which Dems and voting rights advocates refer to as the “war on voting.”
The Court ruled that when Congress reauthorized the law in 2006 — which was done by overwhelming majorities and signed by President George W. Bush — that its requirement for “pre-clearance” of state laws, i.e., Section 5, was based on an outdated formula.
But Section 5, among many other things, helped stall two state-level initiatives designed to restrict voting during the 2012 cycle, and to mitigate a third, according to Wendy Weiser, a voting rights attorney for the Brennan Center for Justice. Weiser notes that Section Five blocked a Texas voter ID law; blocked changes to early voting in Florida that might have disproportionately impacted African Americans; and caused South Carolina to “dramatically mitigate” a voter ID law that ended up far less “harsh and restrictive” than its original provision.
“Voters have lost one of their most potent tools to fight back against discriminatory voting laws and efforts to suppress votes,” Weiser says. “This was one of the primary bulwarks against discriminatory voting laws. It was by far our most effective tool to stop voting discrimination.”
The Brennan Center believes that the striking down of Section 5 will lead states to revisit voting restrictions that have been blocked, and will increase the odds that current pending restrictions will ultimately pass. The Brennan Center recently issued a report detailing a surprisingly large number of initiatives that could be revived or will more likely become law in states previously impacted by Section 5.
“If Section 5 is struck down, jurisdictions may seek to revive these and other previously-blocked election changes,” the Brennan report says. “We may see jurisdictions attempt to move forward with discriminatory voting changes that were abandoned, or never finally adopted, because the jurisdictions realized such changes would likely draw a Section Five objection.”
To be sure, the ruling does not leave voting rights advocates without any tools to continue the fight. As Josh Gerstein explained:
The ruling does not nullify the Voting Rights Act in its entirety. Citizens and the Justice Department still have the power to sue under the law in federal court to block practices that could make it harder for minority voters to vote or dilute their political power.
However, the high court’s decision effectively shifts the burden in such litigation in the so-called covered jurisdictions, requiring those bringing such cases to prove discriminatory intent or impact. Until Tuesday, the states and local communities covered by Section 5 had the obligation to prove that any changes would not harm minority voting rights or power.
But to voting rights advocates, the mere fact that Section 5 invalidated initiatives restricting voting as recently as last year shows that the formula Congress used to determine the need for a burden of proof of non-discrimination to be placed on jurisdictions is not outdated at all.
Here is the statement from The President:
The Statement from The Attorney General
The Slave Catcher on the Supreme Court didn't think the ruling went far enough.
He thought that Section 5 should be declared unconstitutional too.
So, what was the legal rationale for the decision?
From The Maddow Blog:
So on what grounds, exactly, did the court find Sec. 4 of the VRA unconstitutional? I have no idea.
Assuming I'd missed something important, I asked the Constitutional Accountability Center's David Gans to help me out. He told me:
Your question highlights a fundamental flaw in Chief Justice Roberts' majority opinion in Shelby County v. Holder. The Court strikes down a core provision of the Voting Rights Act as unconstitutional without ever explaining what provision of the Constitution commands this result. Chief Justice Roberts' opinion for the conservative majority argued that the Voting Rights Act provision was inconsistent with the 'letter and spirit of the Constitution,' but he never really explained why.
"His majority opinion emphasized that the Voting Rights Act diminished the sovereignty of states, ignoring that Fifteenth Amendment expressly gives to Congress broad power to prevent all forms of racial discrimination in voting by the states. As Justice Ginsburg's powerful dissent demonstrates, the Court's opinion cannot be squared with the text, history, and meaning of the Fifteenth Amendment."
From Justice Ginsburg's Dissent
Justice Ginsburg Slams Supreme Court’s ‘Hubris’ In Fiery Dissent On Voting Rights Act
Sahil Kapur June 25, 2013, 11:40 AM
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg penned the fierce dissent against the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision Tuesday to invalidate a key section of the Voting Rights Act, accusing the conservative justices of displaying “hubris” and a lack of sound reasoning.
“[T]he Court’s opinion can hardly be described as an exemplar of restrained and moderate decision making,” wrote the leader of the court’s liberal wing. “Quite the opposite. Hubris is a fit word for today’s demolition of the VRA.”
...“Congress approached the 2006 reauthorization of the VRA with great care and seriousness. The same cannot be said of the Court’s opinion today,”she wrote. “The Court makes no genuine attempt to engage with the massive legislative record that Congress assembled. Instead, it relies on increases in voter registration and turnout as if that were the whole story.”
...“In my judgment,” Ginsburg wrote, “the Court errs egregiously by overriding Congress’ decision.”
She lambasted the majority for “disturbing lapses” in its reasoning, citing as one example its failure to explain why the plaintiff in the case, Shelby County of Alabama, should be freed from preclearance despite its history of voter discrimination.
“Although the VRA wrought dramatic changes in the realization of minority voting rights, the Act, to date, surely has not eliminated all vestiges of discrimination against the exercise of the franchise by minority citizens,” Ginsburg wrote.
Been wandering around the 'net and found interesting comments:
The Republicans have just declared war. No bones about it. They have all out declared war on every Minority in America. They have basically endorsed the idea that white supremacy is their goal and their birthright and that they will fight to the death to maintain that. Four white guys and one Uncle Tom coon who has been a DISGRACE to the very seat he took over from Thurgood Marshall 23 years ago voted to relive Paula Deen's dream America. Some of us fell asleep at the wheel. In 2000, my father kept saying that THAT election and my Grandfather's assertion that the 1980 election would lead to a reversal of all our ancestors fought for is being proved right every day. This is war now. They have declared it. We cannot ignore it. We cannot pretend it is not in existence. June 25, 2013 is the new Plessy v. Ferguson and we need to fight to the death if need be to drown out the folks who long for the days of the Antebellum South and Jim Crow. We are at war and I'm tired of giving the benefit of the doubt about it.
– The outrageous defense of Trayvon's murderer,
– The gutting of the VRA,
– The excuses being made for Butterball Deen and her racist kin,
– Justifications made for NYC's stop and frisk,
– The gerrymandering of congress which enables these travesties,
– A national press that ignores these issues to focus on Snowden's magical white privilege treason tour,
I don't want to hear not a damned word about post-racial anything
Being a white guy, I feel embarrassed to even talk about the travesty of today's Supreme Court decision on the Voting Rights Act. My right to vote has never been under siege, and many of my tribe have never let go of trying to keep non-whites in a state of permanent, second class citizenship.
From the bottom of my lawyer's heart (yes we really have them), I want to say Fuck Roberts, Fuck Scalia, Fuck Kennedy, Fuck Thomas, and Fuck Alito. It took over 150 years for the SCOTUS to address systematic inequality, and less than 5-years after the election of the first non-white POTUS to say "this shit has to go".
I was born in the decade following the great civil rights battles of the 20th century, so I've never had my courage tested in support of equal rights for all Americans. But I stand with those harmed today, in solidarity over the wrong that was done, and hope that I am equal to the task of helping to make it right again.
Jamison Foser @jamisonfoser6h
1965-2008: Minorities should be able to vote.
2008, 2012: Black guy elected president.
2013: Let’s rethink that voting rights thing...
john miller @deaconmill
Not sure which decision worse, Bush v Gore which helped create this Neanderthalic SCOTUS, or today's which helps legalize discrimination.
10:14 AM - 25 Jun 2013
In 2008, Obama showed he could beat the GOP with fundraising so the Confederate Court gave us Citizens United. Today they strike at AA votes
As for the Slave Catcher on the Supreme Court...
In theory, I don't give two shyts about self-hating Negroes. If they want to hate themselves, and shin and grin for Mister Charlie, to each his own.
The problem with the Slave Catcher on the Supreme Court, is that he takes his self-hatred and makes it detrimental for the rest of us.
This POS isn't fit to shine Thurgood Marshall's shoes, and that he'd sit and vote to undo the work of not only Marshall, but millions of others is galling. I still can't form the words to express my disgust and contempt towards this Kneegrow.