Reaction to court decision on Voting Rights Act

(AP) - Reactions to Supreme Court ruling Tuesday that halts use of a key provision in landmark Voting Rights Act:

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"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.

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"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." _Mississippi House Elections Committee Chairman Bill Denny.

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"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.

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"We are disappointed in today's decision striking at the heart of the Voting Rights Act. For over four decades the Act has succeeded in overcoming unconstitutional barriers to voting, and has demonstrated its central role in protecting this essential freedom. We strongly urge Congress to put aside partisanship and politics, as it did in 2006, and promptly pass legislation to replace those portions of the Act struck down today." _Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

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"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.

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"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.

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"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.

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"I've been saying for some time that I thought it was time for the Supreme Court to review it because the data was so stale, 50 years old. Things have changed." _ Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler.

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"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.

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"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.

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"This is the most devastating blow to civil rights since the 1896 decision (Louisiana's "grandfather clauses")... It stabs the voting rights act in the heart and seeks to destroy the infrastructure of ... inclusion and expansion." _ Rev. Jesse Jackson, longtime civil rights leader and former presidential candidate.

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"The court today declared racism dead in this country despite mountains of evidence to the contrary." _ J. Gerald Hebert, executive director and director of litigation at the Campaign Legal Center.

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"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.


(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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