Supreme Court: States Cannot Demand Additional Proof of Citizenship To Register to Vote. Ted Cruz: “We’ll See About That.”
Yesterday the Supreme Court ruled that states cannot demand additional proof of citizenship to register to vote. Almost immediately after, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas filed an amendment to the immigration reform bill that “permits states to require ID for voter registration.”
In his majority opinion, Justice Antonin Scalia explained that while Arizona’s law is pre-empted by federal statue, the state could use a different method to try to establish “state-specific instructions” on the the Election Assistance Commission’s federal voter registration form, with a legal process for review in the event the EAC opposes the state’s proposal.
That alternative means of enforcing its constitutional power to determine voting qualifications remains open to Arizona here. Should the EAC reject or decline to act on a renewed request, Arizona would have the opportunity to establish in a reviewing court that a mere oath will not suffice to effectuate its citizenship requirement and that the EAC is therefore under a nondiscretionary duty to include Arizona’s concrete-evidence requirement on the Federal Form.
From the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights:
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 17, 2013 — Today, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a strong victory for voters and voting rights advocates in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc.
The Court ruled that by requiring additional proof of citizenship beyond that required by the federal voter registration form, Arizona’s Proposition 200 conflicts with and is preempted by the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA). The Court recognized Congress’ authority under the Elections Clause to regulate voter registration procedures for federal elections and prohibited Arizona from imposing additional requirements for voters who register using the federal mail-in voter registration form.
Arizona v. ITCA is a challenge to the voting-related provisions of Proposition 200 that require Arizona citizens to present certain specified proof of citizenship when registering to vote. Today’s ruling serves as a major victory for Arizona residents whose federal voter registration applications were rejected if they did not meet the unnecessary and burdensome requirements of Arizona’s Proposition 200. Justice Scalia wrote the opinion for the Court, which was joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan. Justice Kennedy concurred with the majority opinion.
From the ACLU:
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court today invalidated a burdensome Arizona state documentation requirement that restricted its citizens’ ability to register to vote in federal elections.
In the case, Arizona v. The Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, the American Civil Liberties Union and other organizations represented individuals and organizations negatively impacted by Arizona’s law, Proposition 200. The case centered on the question of whether the state law conflicted with the federal National Voter Registration Act, also called the “motor voter” law.
“For two decades, the ‘motor voter’ law has made it dramatically easier for Americans to register to vote by instituting a standard, uniform voter registration form nationwide,” said Laughlin McDonald, special counsel and director emeritus of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project. “This decision reaffirms the principle that states may not undermine this critical law’s effectiveness by adding burdens not required under federal law. In doing so, the court has taken a vital step in ensuring the ballot remain free, fair, and accessible for all citizens.”