WASHINGTON (AP) - The federal government may no longer use what's been its most potent tool to stop voting discrimination over the past half century.
A divided Supreme Court today declared unconstitutional a provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act -- a provision that determines which states and localities have to get Washington's approval to make changes in election laws.
The justices said the law relies on data from 40 years ago -- numbers that don't reflect racial progress and changes in U.S. society.
The decision effectively puts an end to the advance approval requirement that has been used, mainly in the South, to open up polling places to minority voters since the law was first enacted in 1965.
The requirement can again take effect, but only after Congress comes up with a new formula that meets what Chief Justice John Roberts calls "current conditions" in the United States.
President Barack Obama is calling on Congress to do just that. He says the ruling is a "setback," but that it won't mean "the end of our efforts to end voting discrimination."
Voting Rights Act of 1965:
Statement by the President on the Supreme Court Ruling on Shelby County v. Holder:
"I am deeply disappointed with the Supreme Court's decision today. 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. Today's 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.
As a nation, we've made a great deal of progress towards guaranteeing every American the right to vote. But, as the Supreme Court recognized, voting discrimination still exists. And while today's decision is a setback, it doesn't represent the end of our efforts to end voting discrimination. I am calling on Congress to pass legislation to ensure every American has equal access to the polls. My Administration will continue to do everything in its power to ensure a fair and equal voting process."
WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Same sex marriage supporters and opponents are due back at the Supreme Court Tuesday. The justices are expected to rule on two landmark cases. The first is California's ban on same sex marriage known as Proposition 8. The second is the Defense of Marriage Act, which denies certain benefits to married gay couple.
At 6 a.m., there was a pretty large crowd of at least two dozen or so people waiting in line. The opinions will be handed down beginning at 10:00 a.m. at the Supreme Court.
The 1965 Voting Rights Law was passed to fight discrimination at the polls. The justices will now examine that law and will decide if that law is still necessary in the United States.
There are two issues regarding gay marriage. The first is whether the court will uphold or strike down California's voter approved ban on gay marriage and the second is whether the federal Defense of Marriage Act, defining marriage between one man and one woman, should that still be law of the land.
Monday, the court sidestepped the issue of affirmative action at University of Texas for further review by a lower court.
The court was expected to wrap up for the summer on Thursday. If we don't hear from the court on these two major issues Tuesday or Wednesday, we're likely to see a July deadline.