High Court Looks Poised to Gut Voting Rights Act

Conservative justices sound skeptical it's still necessary
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 27, 2013 12:48 PM CST
The Rev. Al Sharpton, right, and Martin Luther King III meet with reporters outside the Supreme Court in Washington Wednesday.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(Newser) – If today's questions from the conservative wing of the Supreme Court are any guide, the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965 is doomed. In fact, writes Tom Goldstein at SCOTUSblog, expect a 5-4 decision in favor of striking down Section 5 of the act, one of its core provisions. It requires nine mostly Southern states to get federal permission when they want to change voting rules, and Antonin Scalia and others suggested the measure is no longer necessary, reports the New York Times.

Scalia called it a "perpetuation of racial entitlement," Anthony Kennedy wanted to know how long Alabama had to live "under the trusteeship of the United States government," and Chief Justice John Roberts wondered whether people in the South were more racist than those in the North. The court's liberal wing made the case that the act is still necessary, with Stephen Breyer saying the "old disease" of racism, along with the desire to keep minorities from voting, remains. If the court strikes down the act, it would likely require Congress to come up with a new formula for it, but both the Times and SCOTUSblog think it's unlikely that would be politically possible. (Read more Voting Rights Act stories.)

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