It wasn’t the biggest headline-grabber in a week full of pivotal U.S. Supreme Court rulings, but an order issued by the court handed a victory to voting rights advocates who have been battling suppressive state-imposed laws as next year’s presidential election draws near. In an unsigned order, the justices on Monday declined to review a lower court ruling barring Kansas and Arizona from requiring proof of citizenship on federal voter registration forms. The states can still impose the requirement on state-based voting forms, but they can’t force the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to do the same on registration forms for presidential and congressional elections in those states.
The ruling is “an important step forward in making sure that all that are eligible are registered to vote,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, president of the League of Women Voters, which operates nonpartisan voter registration drives across the country.
But the ruling is also giving new urgency to Democratic election rights advocates and attorneys, including some on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign staff, who are challenging restrictive voting laws enacted by GOP-controlled state legislatures and governors after the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act.