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U.S. Supreme Court

Arizona’s Citizenship Requirement for Federal Voting to Be Reviewed by Supreme Court

Posted Oct 15, 2012 11:10 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether Arizona may require would-be voters to submit proof of citizenship before registering and voting in federal elections.

Arizona is asking the court to overturn a ruling by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that found the Arizona requirement conflicted with federal law, report SCOTUSblog, Reuters and the Associated Press. The court will not rule before the November elections.

“The new Arizona voting rights case is important,” SCOTUSblog says, “not only because of the citizenship proof requirement, but perhaps even more so because it calls on the court to sort out the cooperative but sometimes conflicting roles of the state governments and Congress in regulating election procedures.”

The Constitution gives state legislatures the authority to decide the “time, place and manner” of holding elections, and gives Congress the authority to “make or alter such regulations.” The 9th Circuit found that the federal National Voter Registration Act trumped Arizona law in an analysis based on the elections clause, according to SCOTUSblog. The 9th Circuit said the presumption against pre-emption in supremacy clause cases does not operate in cases analyzed under the elections clause.

The federal voter registration law established a federal registration form to make it easier to vote in national elections. Would-be voters filling out the form are asked to swear they are U.S. citizens, but they are not required to show proof.

The case is Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona Inc.

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