The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 Tuesday to void a part of the Voting Rights Act that mandated certain states, mostly in the South, get federal approval for changes in election laws.
“When the Voting Rights Act was passed in the 1960s, several states and local jurisdictions, including Georgia, discriminated against minority voters. Discrimination is wrong, and Section 5 was an appropriate response,” Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens said in a statement. “I am pleased, however, that the Supreme Court recognized today that, ‘[n]early 50 years later, things have changed dramatically.’ The Voting Rights Act will continue to protect the rights of all voters in all states, but will no longer treat some states differently based on outdated formulas that, thankfully, no longer reflect current practices.”
“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,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed called the decision “disappointing.”
“The Supreme Court decision in Shelby County vs. Holder is stunningly disappointing and ignores the clear intent of the United States Congress, which has enacted and repeatedly reauthorized the Voting Rights Act since 1965 by wide bipartisan majorities, reflecting the undeniable will of the people that each vote be counted regardless of whether it is cast by an ethnic minority,” he said.