Arizona can continue to demand proof of citizenship before registering voters, at least for the time being.
In a brief order Thursday, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy blocked a ruling against the state from taking effect as scheduled Friday. Instead, he directed those who successfully challenged the requirement to file legal papers by the end of the day Monday explaining why the April decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals should be upheld. It does not mean the high court intends to overturn the ruling — or even from preventing it from taking effect while the state seeks review. But it does mean that at least one justice thinks the issue is significant enough to require an immediate look by him and his colleagues.
If nothing else, the order is at least a temporary setback for efforts by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona to overrule a provision of a 2004 voter-approved initiative aimed at illegal immigrants. Most of that measure dealt with things like proving legal presence to get certain public services. But the initiative also required proof of citizenship to register to vote and showing certain forms of identification before being able to cast a ballot. In a split decision, the appellate court upheld the voter ID rules. But the judges said the state cannot strictly enforce the citizenship proof requirement to register.