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02/27/2013 02:13 pm ET Updated Apr 29, 2013

NBC's Pete Williams: 'Safe To Say' Section 5 Of Voting Rights Act Will Be Struck Down (VIDEO)

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NBC's Pete Williams sounded the death knell for parts of the Voting Rights Act on Wednesday, telling MSNBC's Alex Wagner that he thinks there are easily enough votes on the Supreme Court to overturn them.

The court's conservative justices asked what the New York Times called "deeply skeptical questions" about Section 5 of the landmark civil rights act, which has been in place since 1965. The section requires nine states in the South to get permission from the federal government before they change their voting systems. Justice Antonin Scalia dismissed the law as a "perpetuation of racial entitlement."

In his comments, Williams echoed the rapidly hardening consensus about the fate of Section 5 -- and he also said that the justices could overturn Section 4, which he said sets the formula that determines which areas need government review.

"I think it's pretty safe to say that there are at least five votes to strike down either one or both parts of the Voting Rights Act," he said.

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