The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 vote Tuesday, struck down a core provision of the Voting Rights Act that singles out part of the country for special treatment.
The outlawed provision, Section 4, identifies all or parts of 16 states, mainly in the South. A separate provision, Section 5, not struck down by the Supreme Court, forces them to get permission -- or "preclearance" -- from the U.S. Justice Department or a three-judge federal panel in Washington to make any changes in how people vote in their jurisdictions, no matter how innocuous.
But without the identifying the parts of the country affected, the "preclearance" requirement is meaningless.
The landmark ruling frees up many parts of the country that have a history of discriminating against minorities from federal supervision.