The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way Thursday for a lower court ruling that would stop Arizona election officials from rejecting voter registration forms that do not have evidence of citizenship. Arizona has been requiring proof of citizenship with voter registration forms since 2005, shortly after voters passed Proposition 200. But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in April ruled that the proof-of-citizenship requirement conflicted with federal voter registration law. The Supreme Court had stayed that decision earlier this month at the request of Arizona Attorney General Thomas Horne, who was planning a challenge to the lower court decision. The justices Thursday, without comment, lifted that stay, clearing the way for the circuit court to issue an order banning the practice of requiring citizenship proof. That order is likely to come in the next week, said attorneys involved in the case.
Horne said he will go forward with his appeal to the Supreme Court. But the court begins its summer recess Friday, meaning the earliest the case could be considered is October when the justices return – if they agree to hear the case at all. “We’re going to prepare a full petition for cert (a request for an appeal), and I believe we deserve to have it granted,” said Horne, adding that he planned to have the petition filed by the end of July.
Horne downplayed the fact that the Supreme Court refused to extend the stay until its October term, with only Justice Samuel Alito arguing for the stay to continue. “That’s not a consideration of the merits of the case,” he said of the 8-1 decision. But an attorney for the law’s opponents said it would be hard for the state to see good news in the high court’s decision.