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US voting rights law gets Supreme Court challenge

Wednesday - 2/27/2013, 12:30pm  ET

From left, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., Rev. Al Sharpton, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, and Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., stand outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, during a rally before oral arguments in the Shelby County, Ala., v. Holder voting rights case. The justices are hearing arguments in a challenge to the part of the Voting Rights Act that forces places with a history of discrimination, mainly in the Deep South, to get approval before they make any change in the way elections are held. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

MARK SHERMAN
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court is wrestling with the fate of a section of a landmark civil rights law that has helped millions of Americans exercise their right to vote.

In an argument at the court on Wednesday, liberal and conservative justices engaged in a sometimes tense back and forth over whether there is still a need in 2013 for a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The measure requires states with a history of discrimination, including Virginia and other Southern states, to get approval before making changes in the way elections are held.

Chief Justice John Roberts asked the government's top Supreme Court lawyer whether the Obama administration thinks Southerners "are more racist than citizens in the North."

The answer from Solicitor General Donald Verrilli was no.


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