The question before the Supreme Court was whether Congress’ decision in 2006 to reauthorize Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act under the pre-existing coverage formula of Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act exceeded its authority under the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments and thus violated the Tenth Amendment and Article IV of the United States Constitution.
The ruling striking down Section 4 of the VRA by Chief Justice Roberts states:
Our decision in no way affects the permanent, nationwide ban on racial discrimination in voting found in [Section] 2. We issue no holding on [Section] 5 itself, only on the coverage formula. Congress may draft another formula based on current conditions.
UPDATE—In his concurring opinion Justice Thomas says he would strike Section 5 because the reasons given for striking Section 4 should apply to 5 also.
UPDATE 2—Here’s what Section 4(b) said:
(b) The provisions of subsection (a) shall apply in any State or in any political subdivision of a state which (1) the Attorney General determines maintained on November 1, 1964, any test or device, and with respect to which (2) the Director of the Census determines that less than 50 percentum of the persons of voting age residing therein were registered on November 1, 1964, or that less than 50 percentum of such persons voted in the presidential election of November 1964.
A determination or certification of the Attorney General or of the Director of the Census under this section or under section 6 or section 13 shall not be reviewable in any court and shall be effective upon publication in the Federal Register.
What the Court ruled was that this formula is so disconnected from present day reality that it can no longer be considered constitutional. Chief Justice John Roberts was joined by Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito. Please note that the Court did not invalidate the principle that preclearance can be required. Section 5 was not struck down, but while it survives, it will have no actual effect until Congress can pass a new law to determine which states and/or localities should be covered by it.
UPDATE 3—The opinion may be found here.