“This is a devastating blow to Americans, particularly African-Americans, who are now at the mercy of state governments. Given last year’s attempts by states to change voting rules, it is absurd to say that we do not need these protections.” – Rev. Al Sharpton, president of National Action Network. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)
“I am deeply disappointed with the Supreme Court’s decision today… Today’s decision invalidating one of its core provisions upsets decades of well-established practices that help make sure voting is fair, especially in places where voting discrimination has been historically prevalent.” – President Barack Obama. (Photo by Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images)
“My experience with John Lewis in Selma earlier this year was a profound experience that demonstrated the fortitude it took to advance civil rights and ensure equal protection for all. I’m hopeful Congress will put politics aside, as we did on that trip, and find a responsible path forward that ensures that the sacred obligation of voting in this country remains protected.” – Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.)
“This decision weakens the cause of voting rights in our time, disregards the challenges of discrimination still facing our country, and undermines our nation’s ongoing effort to protect the promise of equality in our laws.” – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
“Today’s Supreme Court’s ruling invalidating the preclearance requirements contained within the Voting Rights Act is a win for fairness, South Carolina, and the rule of law… The court’s ruling will hopefully end the practice of treating states differently and recognizes that we live in 2013, not the 1960’s.” – Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C. (Courtesy Rep Jeff Duncan Flickr)
“In striking down the coverage formula in the Voting Rights Act, the court has dramatically undercut Section 5’s ability to protect American voters from racial discrimination in voting. The result is that many Americans who were protected by this law will now be vulnerable to discriminatory practices and will have much greater difficulty accessing the ballot box.” – Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
“This decision represents a serious setback for voting rights and has the potential to negatively affect millions of Americans across the country.” – Attorney General Eric Holder
“I’ve always felt that it was unconstitutional… I would’ve agreed in 1965 that something had to be done, but it should’ve been done to all 50 states. I just always felt that was wrong, that was a violation of the 10th Amendment to begin with, of states’ rights.” – Rep. Bill Denny, R-Miss., and chairman of the House Elections Committee. (Courtesy Miss. House of Representatives)
“Today’s ruling by the United States Supreme Court is a clear victory for federalism and the states. Texas may now implement the will of the people without being subject to outdated and unnecessary oversight and the overreach of federal power.” – Texas Gov. Rick Perry (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
“The Supreme Court has stabbed the Voting Rights Act in the heart. The White House and Congress must speak out as they are direct beneficiaries of the act and must assume leadership,” Rev. Jesse Jackson said in a statement released on his Facebook page. “Democracy is just 48 years old. It began in Selma 1965. This decision is designed to unravel 48 years of progress.” (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
“Discrimination at the ballot box is a real problem and causes real harm to our democracy. This ruling is a major step backwards in the ongoing fight for a truly free and fair democracy and democratic system.” – Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. (Courtesy National Gay and Lesbian Task Force website)
“We’re free and clear to follow through with our law now without any restriction by the Justice Department… Last year I think we spent over a half a million dollars defending our pre-clearance cases. That cost will be eliminated in the future as a result of this opinion.” – Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner. (Courtesy FL DOS website)
“Today will be remembered as a step backwards in the march towards equal rights. We must ensure that this day is just a page in our nation’s history, rather than the return to a dark chapter.” – Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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The Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act this Tuesday, and many prominent figures have voiced their approval or disgust.
The legislation, signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965, helped to guarantee equal voting opportunities where historically there had been discrimination.
In a 5-4 ruling, the justices decided that the Section Four of the bill cannot be enforced until Congress comes up with a new way of determining which states and localities require close federal monitoring of elections.
Click through the slideshow above to see reactions from influential Americans on the court’s decision.