President Lyndon B. Johnson shakes hands with Martin Luther King Jr. at the Voting Rights Act signing ceremony in 1965.
The Supreme Court has spared the 1965 Voting Rights Act, agreeing by an 8-1 margin to leave a ruling on its more controversial parts for another day—and perhaps another court. The near-unanimous narrow decision came as a surprise, with justices apparently retreating from earlier divisions that led some court watchers to predict the legislation’s demise.
Given a chance to gut the nation’s 44-year-old Voting Rights Act by declaring unconstitutional federal monitoring of election practices in places that have historically discriminated against blacks, the U.S. Supreme Court surprised many and punted Monday.
And in doing so, the justices disappointed many conservatives but managed to avoid triggering — at least for now — a divisive national debate over how far the nation has traveled in overcoming the racism that infected its election system.