Justice Antonin Scalia called a key part of the Voting Rights Act a "perpetuation of racial entitlement" during oral arguments Wednesday in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Conservative justices on the Supreme Court expressed skepticism about the need for the centerpiece of the landmark civil rights law to remain in place. The part in question requires nine states and some counties, mostly in the South, to get permission from the federal government before making changes to voting laws, the New York Times.
"Is it the government's submission that the citizens in the South are more racist than the citizens in the North?" Chief Justice John Roberts asked.
Justice Anthony Kennedy asked how much longer Alabama must live "under the trusteeship of the United States government." He said said there's no question that "section 5" of the law was "utterly necessary" when it was passed. But he said it's validity now is "not clear" to him, news reports say.Some of the more liberal members of the court defended the need for it.
"It's an old disease," Justice Stephen G. Breyer said, referring to efforts to thwart minority voting. "It's gotten a lot better. A lot better. But it's still there."