SCOTUS Guts Voting Rights Act

Roberts court rules that VRA so successful, no longer necessary

SCOTUS Guts Voting Rights Act

By a 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act – which determines state coverage -- is unconstitutional. Without specified states for "preclearance" review, primarily in the South, it will be virtually impossible to prevent burdensome rules designed to suppress turnout, especially among minority voters.

Although Austin eyes are currently riveted by the drama at the Texas Senate, where Sen. Wendy Davis is filibustering the bill that would severely restrict abortion rights and women's health care in Texas, there are other headlines today. Specifically, the opinion of the Roberts Supreme Court (striking down Sec. 4 of the VRA) means that -- failing new and unlikely coverage standards from a divided Congress -- the Department of Justice will not be able to enforce the Sec. 5 provisions that protect minority voters from discrimination in election laws.

Texas Republican politicians were quick to welcome the decision, because it means they will be able to impose previously contested voting regulations. Attorney General Greg Abbott announced that the state would immediately enforce its restrictive "Voter ID" law (until this morning under legal challenge); and legislators speculated that the Texas redistricting maps, also contested for their negative effects on minority voters, will remain in place, perhaps with no further action from the Legislature or Gov. Rick Perry.

We'll have more ongoing coverage of the effects of the decision on the NewsDesk blog and in the Chronicle print edition.

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