One the government's most powerful weapons against racial discrimination is facing a challenge in the supreme court.
At issue is a key part of the voting rights act requiring states with a history of discrimination to get permission before changing their voting laws.
Today's case comes just about three years after the high court ruled on this issue.
At that time Justices didn't make any changes to the act, but they did indicate this "pre-clearance requirement" may be in need of review.
For nearly 50 years the voting rights act has protected against discrimination at the polls.
Now with an increasing number of minorities holding elected positions, most notably an African American serving a second term the in the white house, Shelby county, Alabama argues the act is outdated.
"We and these other covered jurisdictions have made great strides over the last forty-eight years," said Frank Ellis, Attorney of Shelby County, Alabama.
At issue: is Section 5 of the act- renewed by congress in 2006.
It requires nine states, mostly in the south and parts of seven others, all with a history of discrimination to get federal permission before changing any election rules.
Conservative Justices doubted states today should be treated differently.
Chief Justice John Roberts asked whether southerners "are more racist?"
And Justice Antonin Scalia said "The issue is: Why just these states?"
A key argument for challengers.
"These jurisdictions no longer require the kind of federal supervision they once did," said Edward Blum of Citizens for Fair Representation.
But less than 10 years ago the federal government had to intervene in Shelby County.
Calera city redrew its district lines pushing the city's only African American council member out of office.
Justice Elena Kagan called Alabama "one of the top violators."
And Justice Stephen Breyer added "We know one thing- the disease is still there."
Without this protection, voters would have to combat discrimination in court after an election.
Now the high court will decide.
The Supreme Court is expected to release a final decision by late June.
This term is shaping up to be one of the most important in decades for civil rights.
The court is already looking at affirmative action, now it's considering the voting rights act as well.
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