Josh Israel and Aviva Shen of Think Progress said these consequences would be seen in the next election because the court decision will affect voter ID laws, gerrymandering legislative maps and grassroots get-out-the-vote efforts:
The 15th amendment to the U.S. Constitution guaranteed that the right to vote shall not be abridged on the basis of "race, color, or previous condition servitude." It also expressly granted to Congress the power to "enforce this article by appropriate legislation." Though bipartisan majorities in the Congress and President George W. Bush agreed that this legislation was still needed — and 81 percent of the voter discrimination complaints brought after the laws went into effect were in areas covered by the now eliminated pre-clearance jurisdictions — Justices Alito, Kennedy, Roberts, Scalia, and Thomas have seriously defanged that power and opened the door to significantly more voter suppression.
John Fund of The Corner said the court's decision isn't actually detrimental for civil rights:
The Supreme Court's decision today to overturn a small part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act is actually a victory for civil rights. As the court noted, what made sense both in moral and practical terms almost a half century ago has to be approached anew.
Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act forced states that had poor minority registration or turnout numbers in the 1960s to remain in a permanent penalty box from which they were forced to seek Justice Department approval for the most basic of election-law decisions. Its consideration of state requests for election changes was often arbitrary and partisan, as witnessed by the recent smackdown that the DOJ got from a federal court when it tried to block South Carolina's voter ID law.
The rest of the Voting Rights Act remains in place and will be used to ensure minority voting rights. Congress is free to come up with a different, updated coverage formula for pre-clearance, but given the DOJ's current stained reputation Congressional action looks unlikely in the near future.
Kevin Drum of Mother Jones said it's slightly possible the decision will positively impact Democratic voter turnout, but the more plausible result is benefit for Republicans:
Technically, they didn't rule that preclearance was unconstitutional, only that the particular formula used in the VRA is unconstitutional. This is something that's long been a hobbyhorse of Chief Justice John Roberts, who believes it's implausible that the original set of states covered in 1965 should be the exact same set covered today. He wants Congress to revisit the issue and actively decide which states require preclearance and which ones don't.
Four other justices agreed with him this time, so preclearance is dead. And given the current partisan makeup of Congress, it's vanishingly unlikely that they'll agree to a new formula.
Ten years ago I might have had a smidgen of hope that this would turn out OK. There would be abuses, but maybe not horrible, systematic ones. Today I have little of that hope left. The Republican Party has made it crystal clear that suppressing minority voting is now part of its long-term strategy, and I have little doubt that this will now include hundreds of changes to voting laws around the country that just coincidentally happen to disproportionately benefit whites. There will still be challenges to these laws, but I suspect that the number of cases will be overwhelming and progress will be molasses slow. This ruling is plainly a gift to the GOP for 2014.