The Supreme Court’s landmark ruling to gut the 1965 Voting Rights Act will change the country’s politics. And in some cases, the change could come as soon as 2014.
On the surface, the ruling now allows certain states to make changes to their voting laws without federal approval. But the political implications will reach beyond those states, especially as Democrats try to use the decision to energize minority voters for the midterm elections.
On Tuesday, the high court ruled unconstitutional a key part, Section 4, of the Voting Rights Act. That provision detailed the formula used to decide which states must have pre-clearance from the federal government before making changes to voting laws because, according to the now-voided provision, those jurisdictions had a history of discrimination.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. described the Section 4 coverage formula as outdated in his majority opinion, calling on Congress to develop a new way to pick which states must get federal approval. But it’s unlikely the House and Senate will pass something soon, given the contentious nature of voting rights and the gridlock on Capitol Hill.
As a result, it’s likely no state will have to seek federal approval to change its voting laws in the immediate future.
To be sure, the high court’s ruling will have a greater effect in the long term. For example, in 2020, states previously covered by the law’s Section 5 won’t have to get federal approval for their redrawn congressional maps, giving local officials new leeway to draw district boundaries. Those new maps will take effect in 2022.
But voters could see the effects of this week’s ruling much sooner as well. Here are four ways the ruling could play into the 2014 midterms: Full story