MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down a key portion of the Voting Rights Act.
While some praise the high courts ruling, others are calling it a major setback for the nation.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 cleared the way for voting equality in the U.S. It outlawed practices that discriminated against African American voters and other minorities.
The high court now said the very heart of that law is invalid, because it relies on data from 40 years ago that doesn't reflect racial progress and changes in U.S. society.
Since it was signed into law in 1965 the Voting Rights Act has been renewed and amended by Congress four times, most recently in 2006.
It requires nine, mostly southern states including Alabama to seek federal approval for any proposed changes to the voting process.
For example, any changes in voting locations must be approved by the Department of Justice. Special Elections are also submitted for approval.
The law was intended to protect everyone's right to vote. But the high court said the most potent tool to stop voting discrimination does not reflect racial progress.
Opponents call the decision a major setback for the country.
Sherrilyn Ifill is with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund which argued in favor of the Voting Rights Act before the Supreme Court.
"It goes without saying that we are deeply disappointed by the court's decision today. Make no mistake about what has happened. The court has decided that it stands in a better position than congress to determine how to protect voting discrimination. The 15th amendment of the constitution makes it clear that it is congress that has that power," Ifill said.
President Obama expressed his disappointment, saying the 5-4 vote upset decades of practices to make sure voting is fair.
Here in Alabama the reaction is mixed.
State Attorney General Luther Strange praised the ruling. Part of his statement reads, "The Supreme Court today rightly recognized that Alabama and other covered jurisdictions could not be treated unequally based on things that happened decades ago."
But, Alabama Senate Minority leader Vivian Figures believes the court ruling threatens a right many have died to protect.
"Unfortunately there have been many moves to suppress the vote of minorities and this is just another one of those. So I'm really hoping that our Congressional members in both the House and Senate will come together with a statute to replace it, so that it will be constitutional in the Supreme Courts eyes anyway, because we all deserve a right to vote," Figures said.
The requirement that was eliminated by the Supreme Court 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.
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