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Obama slams Supreme Court voting decision

world Updated: Jun 25, 2013 22:40 IST

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US President Barack Obama said on Tuesday he was "deeply disappointed" by a Supreme Court decision to strike down a key section of an election law designed to guard against racial discrimination.

"Today's decision ... upsets decades of well-established practices that help make sure voting is fair, especially in places where voting discrimination has been historically prevalent," Obama said in a statement.

Obama said the Voting Rights Act, endorsed by wide majorities in Congress, had secured the right to vote for millions of Americans.

"While today's decision is a setback, it doesn't represent the end of our efforts to end voting discrimination. I am calling on Congress to pass legislation to ensure every American has equal access to the polls."

The Court ruled 5-4 that Section 4 of the 1965 law -- a cornerstone of civil rights legislation -- was unconstitutional, calling on Congress to redefine which states must seek government approval for changes to their electoral codes.

The Voting Rights Act -- which was last renewed by Congress in 2006 -- is opposed by some states which see it as outmoded, but a number of civil rights organizations argue it is still needed.

Under the act, nine mainly southern states, as well as local governments in seven states, are required to obtain Justice Department approval for any changes to their voting laws.