By Eyder Peralta
By a 5-to-4 decision, the Supreme Court has struck down a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that establishes a formula to identify states that may require extra scrutiny by Justice Department. The decision focuses on section 4 of the Act. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts writes that the decision “in no way affects the permanent, nationwide ban on racial discrimination in voting found in [Section] 2. We issue no holding on [Section] 5 itself, only on the coverage formula. Congress may draft another formula based on current conditions.” Legal scholar Jeffrey Toobin tells CNN that the court has effectively said “times have changed so much that the formula is invalid.” And by striking Section 4, he said, “in practice, the other section of the law – Section 5 — is dormant.” The case, known as Shelby County v. Holder, involves Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which was renewed by Congress in 2006 for a period of 25 years. The petitioner, Shelby County, Alabama, argued that Section 5 of the VRA subjects them to a double standard and infringes on state sovereignty. Specifically, the plaintiff argued that Congress exceeded its authority under the Fourteenth Amendment guaranteeing equal protection and the Fifteenth Amendment covering voting rights and therefore violated the Tenth Amendment and Article IV of the constitution – both of which deal with state’s rights.