Mitchell Reports | February 27, 2013
>> historic voting rights act could be in danger as a number of supreme court justices overturned the 1965 law. nbcs justice correspondent pete williams joins me now from the supreme court . pete , from the arguments today, what is your impression of what way the court might be moving?
>> well, you know, the court didn't come with a blank slate . four years ago, the court looked at the same question and laid down a marker. we were watching to see if the justices that were skeptical then changed their mind? the answer is no. five votes to strike down a key part of the voting rights act . it's a law that requires states with a history of discrimination to get permission before they make changes in how they change their elections. strike down a companion part of which states are covered by the law. they think it's out of date. chief roberts asked which state has the worst record in registering and turnouts of african-americans? answer he said, massachusetts, mississippi is best. at another point he said to the solicitor general, do you think people in the south are more racist than people in the north? it's questions like that that made it clear that chief justice roberts thinks the law is out of date. the other key vote, justice kennedy expressed the same concerns. the marshall plan was a great idea at the time it passed. it's backward looking. not taking enough account of where things stand now.
>> pete , what about the fact that many people believe there was rampant voter suppression to try to keep minorities from voting? does that have any impact of that argument about efforts to stop african-americans from voting because of republican legislatures, republican state capitals who were concerned about more democratic votes?
>> reporter: it cuts both way. the supporters say a-ha. it's why we need the preclearance effort. strict voter id laws in texas and south carolina . opponents of the law say the similar restrictions were challenged using another part of the law that doesn't require the states to get permission in advance. they can sue them if they think they are discriminating.
>> thank you very much, pete