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Court Upholds Key Voting Rights Provision in Narrow Ruling

The Supreme Court on Monday avoided making any major changes to a central component of landmark civil rights legislation by issuing a narrow ruling that allows a small Texas utility district to bail out of Section 5 requirements of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.But despite vigorous debate in recent years over the constitutionality of Section 5’s “pre-clearance— provision, the court declined to issue a broader ruling that addressed the issue.“That constitutional question has attracted ardent briefs from dozens of interested parties, but the importance of the question does not justify our rushing to decide it,— Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the court’s opinion. “Quite the contrary: Our usual practice is to avoid the unnecessary resolution of constitutional questions. We agree that the district is eligible under the Act to seek bailout.—Justice Clarence Thomas was the lone dissenting vote in the case. Thomas said he would have held that Section 5 is unconstitutional.