In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act as unconstitutional. The law requires nine mostly-Southern states to obtain federal permission before changing voting procedures.
The New York Times reports:
The vote was five to four, with the five conservative-leaning judges in the majority and the four liberal-leaning justices in the minority. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote the decision.
The majority held that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, originally passed in 1965 and since updated by Congress. The section includes a formula that determines which states must receive pre-approval.
The court did not strike down Section 5, which allows the federal government to require pre-approval. But without Section 4, which determines which states would need to receive clearance, Section 5 is largely without significant — unless Congress chooses to pass a new bill for determining which states would be covered.
Given the current partisan nature of Congress, reaching agreement on a new formula may be difficult.