The Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down a key provision in a landmark Civil Rights-era law designed to combat discriminatory voting practice, a move that frees states of certain federal oversight of elections.

While the justices in their 5-4 decision left in place most of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, they threw out rules that required all or parts of 16 states, mostly in the South, to seek approval from the Justice Department or a federal court before they make changes in the way they hold elections.

The court left it up to Congress to draft new voting guidelines to ensure that states and cities with a history of voting discrimination properly following the Voting Rights Act. But with a deeply divided Congress, a consensus on a new law will be difficult.

President Obama said he was “deeply disappointed” with the Supreme Court’s ruling, calling it a major setback in the push to end voting discrimination across the country.

“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,” he said.

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