Challengers to Arizona’s eight-year-old mandate that voters must prove that they are U.S. citizens before they may register to go to the polls argued Monday that the state has not offered any evidence that the requirement is necessary to prevent fraud in elections. Urging the Supreme Court to leave undisturbed a Ninth Circuit Court decision striking down the citizenship rule, the opponents of Arizona’s “Proposition 200″ contended that a delay of that ruling will interfere with voting in this year’s elections and drive potential voters away from the polls. Two responses to Arizona’s plea for postponement can be read here and here. The state’s voters approved the citizenship mandate in 2004, and its enactment has led to a continuing courthouse battle that has been to the Supreme Court once before, and even led to an earlier Ninth Circuit ruling against the requirement by retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, sitting temporarily as a federal appeals court judge. Indeed, her name was invoked by the challengers as they sought to head off Arizona’s stay application (11A1189).
The state’s plea was filed with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who handles emergency filings from the Ninth Circuit’s region. He has the option of deciding it himself, or sharing it with the other Justices. Kennedy — or the Court — is expected to act later this week, after getting a reply brief from Arizona officials. That brief is due at noon Wednesday.
At issue in both the stay application, and in the coming Supreme Court appeal that Arizona plans to file, is whether the citizenship requirement conflicts with the National Voter Regisration Act, passed by Congress in 1993 to try to streamline the voter registration process across the country. Under that Act, states are generally required to allow voters to use a federal form to ease registration. The form does have a place where a would-be voter must indicate whether they are a U.S. citizen, but Arizona’s requirement goes beyond that and requires documentary proof of citizenship.
Full Article: Citizenship mandate challenged : SCOTUSblog.