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Supreme Court Makes Ruling on Voting Rights Act of 1965

Victoria L. Johnson Special to AmNews | , By | 6/25/2013, 2:53 p.m.

On Tuesday, June 25th, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 in favor of abandoning Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Section 5 of the same act was upheld.Section 4 determines which states or districts must have pre-approval by the federal government before passing new voting laws while Section 5 requires certain states or districts, particularly in the South, to gain pre-approval by the federal government before changing any new voting laws such as election districts, voting rules, or polling locations. Although Section 5 was upheld, it is insignificant without Section 4, which determines which states that must abide by Section 5. The ruling was first put in place to avoid the passage of discriminatory voting laws that could disenfranchise minority voters. In 2006, Congress extended the requirements for Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 for an additional 25 years. President Obama issued a statement expressing his disappointment with the ruling. "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." the statement read. "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."However, President Obama assured that his Administration will "continue to do everything in its power to ensure a fair and equal voting process."Senator Adriano Espaillat of New York expressed his disapproval of the decision as well. "Blacks and Latinos continue to struggle to cast their vote in our democracy, and face disproportionate challenges to make their voice count," he said in a statement."As we saw last November, minority communities experienced staggering long wait times at the polls, leaving many people with jobs, young children, and other commitments unable to participate. With the Department of Justice no longer sufficiently empowered to ensure transparency and accountability, we must enact new federal, state and local laws to assist vulnerable members of our community and ensure their vote still counts." Kirsten John Foy, who has worked with the National Action Network and is a candidate for City Council, told the AmNews that he was optimistic about getting to the point where Section 4 would not be necessary, but maintained that the nation is not there yet."We've come a long way, we are clearly not at a place where we can just remove all social safeguards where we can just say we don't need to be race conscious about anything," Foy said. "Last year we've just seen a wave of voter suppression efforts across the country where state governments have decided that they're going to erect all kinds of barriers for people for voting and so we can't rest on our laurels. We can't say that the movement that brought us here 50 years ago is no longer necessary when we see that the movement that wants to turn the clock back are ramping up and energized." he continued.