Updated: 2/27/2013 2:37 pm
WASHINGTON (AP) — The most potent weapon in fighting discrimination at the ballot box comes before the Supreme Court in a case that weighs the nation's enormous progress in civil rights against the need to continue to protect minority voters.
The justices are hearing arguments Wednesday in a challenge to the part of the Voting Rights Act that forces those places with a history of discrimination, mainly in the Deep South, to get approval before they make any change in the way elections are held.
The lawsuit from Shelby County, Ala., near Birmingham, says the "dire local conditions" that once justified strict federal oversight of elections no longer exist.
The Obama administration and civil rights groups acknowledge the progress, but they also argue that Congress was justified in renewing the provision in 2006.
©2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.