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Under law, the federal government has oversight in certain states and localities

An Alabama county filed the lawsuit, arguing federal monitoring is unwarranted

Oral arguments will be held next year, with a ruling expected by June

Washington CNN —  

The Supreme Court agreed Friday to decide whether the key enforcement provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965 should be scrapped as a constitutionally unnecessary vestige of the civil rights era.

Known as Section 5, it gives the federal government open-ended oversight of states and localities with a history of voter discrimination. Any changes in voting laws and procedures in the covered states must be “pre-cleared” with Washington.

The provision was reauthorized by Congress in 2006 for another quarter-century, and an Alabama county subsequently filed suit, saying the monitoring is overly burdensome and unwarranted.

The case will be one of the biggest the justices tackle this term, offering a social, political and legal barometer on the progress of civil rights in the United States – and the level of national vigilance still needed to ensure minorities have equal access to the election process.

Oral arguments will be held next year, with a ruling expected by June.

The case is Shelby County, AL v. Holder (12-96).