Supreme Court Rules against Requiring Voters to Prove Citizenship

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In prior blog posts, we have written about Arizona immigration laws being struck down by the Supreme Court. On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled once again against Arizona, claiming the state may not require proof of citizenship from people seeking to vote in federal elections.

Prior to the ruling, Arizona required people to provide such documentation in order to be able to vote. This law was implemented in 2004 in response to the high numbers of illegal immigrants that come to Arizona. According to lawyers involved in this case, tens of thousands of Arizonans have been denied the right to vote because they didn’t provide proof of citizenship.

In the ruling, Justice Antonin Scalia stated that a federal law requiring states to “accept and use” a federal form displaces the Arizona state law. This federal law allows voters to fill out a form that includes the question, “Are you a citizen of the United States?” Voters must check a box for yes or no, and they must sign this form, swearing their answer is the truth under the penalty of perjury.

Arizona officials argued that they do accept and use the form, but that they require additional information as well. Justice Scalia emphasized the meaning of the term “accept and use”, stating that in context the term means that the federal form is to be accepted as being sufficient.

The Justices inquired that Arizona had options if they wanted to change the federal form, such as asking the Election Assistance Committee to make a change. Arizona had already done this in 2005 and their request was rejected. However, Arizona is able to attempt to ask again.

Author: Sean Foley, Legal Trainee, Bridgehouse Law Charlotte

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