WASHINGTON -- The Anti-Defamation League slammed the Supreme Court on Wednesday for "eviscerating" the core provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which required many states in the American South with a history of institutional discrimination to clear any newly proposed voting procedures with the federal government.

The ADL was originally founded to battle anti-Semitism, but has become a major civil rights proponent over several decades. In its initial reaction on Wednesday, the organization vowed to work with Congress to find a new formula to replace the law's vacated provision.

"There's no doubt this will be an uphill challenge," said Deborah Lauter, ADL's civil rights director. "We'll be looking at various legal strategies. We're all putting our heads together to try and figure out how to address this profoundly disappointing decision."

The act had been renewed consistently by Congress over almost five decades, with near-unanimous support in recent years. But with the provision now scrapped, Congress will be challenged to find a new approach that might require singling out specific states or counties with modern racial discrimination issues. That hurdle is causing pessimism on Capitol Hill, where Republicans, including Deep South conservatives, still control the House of Representatives.

"We stand with the vast majority of the Jewish community and civil rights leaders like Representative John Lewis, as well as the civil rights organizations that are deeply troubled by yesterday's ruling," says Aaron Keyak, interim executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council.

"We join with the calls for Congress to repair the Voting Rights Act so that the days of deliberate disenfranchisement will not return to America."

In a statement from the White House, President Barack Obama said he was "deeply disappointed" by the ruling, saying it "upsets decades of well-established practices that help make sure voting is fair, especially in places where voting discrimination has been historically prevalent."

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