The Supreme Court agreed on Monday to consider whether Arizona can demand that voters show proof of U.S. citizenship to register to vote in federal elections. The high court will not hear the case before the November 6 U.S. election, ensuring that the disputed registration requirement in Arizona will not be in effect. The legal dispute over the registration requirement dates back to 2004 when Arizona voters passed a ballot initiative, Proposition 200, designed to stop illegal immigrants from voting. The measure amended state election laws to require voters to show proof of citizenship to register to vote, as well as identification to cast a ballot at the polls. Arizona residents, Indian tribes and civil rights groups sued to challenge measure. The registration law requires voters to present “satisfactory evidence” of U.S. citizenship, including a driver’s license number, naturalization papers, U.S. birth certificate or passport. It is one of many measures nationwide championed by Republicans and put in place at the state level that Democrats say are intended to make it more difficult for certain voters who tend to vote Democratic to cast ballots.
Arizona, which borders Mexico, has been a focal point of immigration laws. In a landmark case, the U.S. Supreme Court in June upheld Arizona’s provision on immigration status checks by police. But it also struck down rules in the state’s measure that would, among other things, ban illegal immigrants from soliciting work in public places. While the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Arizona’s right to require voter identification at polling places, the court in April found that the citizenship requirement conflicted with a 1993 federal law designed to make it easier for people to register to vote in federal elections by using a federal registration form.