The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear a case challenging a central provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, landmark legislation that outlawed election discrimination against blacks and other minorities. At issue is Section 5 of the law, which forbids certain states and localities with a history of discrimination from changing their voting laws without federal approval. Critics of the law say that the provision is outdated, and that it therefore represents an unconstitutional burden on affected states, most of which are in the South. Defenders of the law contend that it is still necessary, alleging that Republican state legislatures have only recently passed laws designed to suppress minority turnout. Members of the Supreme Court's conservative majority have expressed skepticism about Section 5's constitutionality in the past. A decision in the case, Shelby County v. Holder, is expected before the end of the court's 2012-13 term.
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