President Barack Obama tonight urged Congress to take up patent reform and to restore the Voting Rights Act in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that he said “weakened” the anti-discrimination law. … On the Voting Rights Act, Obama took an indirect swipe at the Supreme Court’s ruling—in Shelby County v. Holder—that voided a provision of the law. The author of the high court’s opinion—Chief Justice John Roberts Jr.—was one of five justices who attended the State of the Union. The ruling struck down the part of the law that determined which jurisdictions were required to submit electoral changes for preclearance from a federal court or the U.S. Department of Justice.
This month, a bipartisan group of lawmakers p roposed legislation to repair and expand the law in the Senate and House. Among other changes, the bill would create a new formula to re-establish preclearance for four jurisdictions—Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas—and any other state shown to have committed five or more voting rights violations during the past 15 years.
“Last year, part of the Voting Rights Act was weakened,” Obama said tonight. “But conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats are working together to strengthen it.”