By MARK SHERMAN
WASHINGTON (AP) - A deeply divided Supreme Court on Tuesday halted enforcement of the federal government's most potent tool to stop voting discrimination over the past half century, saying it does not reflect racial progress.
In a 5-4 ruling, the court declared unconstitutional a provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act that determines which states and localities must get Washington's approval for proposed election changes.
President Barack Obama, the nation's first black chief executive, issued a statement saying he was "deeply disappointed" with the ruling.
The decision effectively puts an end to the advance approval requirement that has been used, mainly in the South, to open up polling places to minority voters in the nearly half century since it was first enacted in 1965, unless Congress can come up with a new formula that Chief Justice John Roberts said meets "current conditions" in the United States.