Obama blasts Supreme Court over rights ruling

President Obama said Tuesday he is "deeply disappointed" in the Supreme Court's decision striking down a key piece of the Voting Rights Act.

"Today’s decision … upsets decades of well-established practices that help make sure voting is fair, especially in places where voting discrimination has been historically prevalent," Obama said in a statement.


In a 5-4 decision led by Chief Justice John Roberts, the court struck down a test intended to prevent state and local governments from changing their voting laws to disenfranchise minorities.

Obama called on Congress to pass new legislation restoring the section of the Voting Rights Act the court struck down.

"As a nation, we’ve made a great deal of progress towards guaranteeing every American the right to vote," Obama said. 

"But, as the Supreme Court recognized, voting discrimination still exists. And while today’s decision is a setback, it doesn’t represent the end of our efforts to end voting discrimination."

The Supreme Court said Congress could write a new formula for determining which state and local governments must get permission from the federal government before changing their voting laws. But the existing formula, which hasn't changed since 1965, is no longer fair, the court said.

Obama previously appeared to acknowledge that the court was likely to roll back the Voting Rights Act. In an interview following the court's oral arguments in February, he sought to reassure minorities that the court's decision would not take away the right to vote.

“People will still have the same rights not to be discriminated against when it comes to voting,” Obama said then. “You just won’t have this mechanism, this tool, that allows you to kind of stay ahead of certain practices.”