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Old 06-17-2013, 03:12 PM   #1
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Supreme Court Justices Block Law Requiring Voters to Prove Citizenship

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/18/us...ship.html?_r=0

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By ADAM LIPTAK
Published: June 17, 2013 419 Comments


WASHINGTON — Arizona may not require documentary proof of citizenship from people seeking to vote in federal elections there, the Supreme Court ruled in a 7-to-2 decision on Monday.
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The decision was the third in as many terms to consider tough measures from Arizona addressing what lawmakers there say is a crisis caused by illegal immigration. But the Supreme Court has pushed back, protecting the dominant role of the national government in regulating immigration and voting.

Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, No. 12-71, said a federal law requiring states to “accept and use” a federal form displaced an Arizona law requiring various kinds of proof of citizenship.

The federal law, the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, allows voters to register using a federal form that asks, “Are you a citizen of the United States?” Prospective voters must check a box for yes or no, and they must sign the form, swearing under the penalty of perjury that they are citizens.

The state law, by contrast, required prospective voters to prove that they were citizens by providing copies of or information concerning various documents, including birth certificates, passports, naturalization papers or driver’s licenses, that are available only to people who are in the state lawfully.

The state law was a result of a 2004 voter initiative, Proposition 200, that said it was meant to combat voter fraud. The law has given rise to tangled proceedings ever since. Under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Arizona was required to obtain federal approval before it changed its voting procedures. The Justice Department granted approval in 2005.

According to the plaintiffs in the case, tens of thousands of Arizonans have been denied the ability to vote because they failed to present the required evidence.

Much of Justice Scalia’s majority opinion concerned the meaning of the phrase “accept and use.” Arizona officials argued that they do accept and use the form, but also require additional information. An airline may accept and use e-tickets, they said, but also require identification.

When the case was argued in March, Thomas C. Horne, Arizona’s attorney general, said the federal approach was insufficient to protect the integrity of federal elections in his state. “It’s essentially an honor system,” he said of the statement required by the federal form. “It does not do the job.”

In the decision on Monday, Justice Scalia said the phrase “accept and use,” when understood in context, meant that the federal form had to be accepted as sufficient. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined all of the majority opinion, and Justice Anthony M. Kennedy joined most of it.

In a long dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas said the Constitution gave states the power “to determine the qualifications of voters in federal elections, which necessarily includes the related power to determine whether those qualifications are satisfied.”

“Congressional legislation of voter qualifications was not part of the framers’ design,” Justice Thomas wrote.

In a second dissent, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. focused on the language of the federal law, which he said was ambiguous. The majority’s interpretation of it, Justice Alito wrote, “produces truly strange results.” He said he would read the law to mean that states “accept and use” the federal form so long as it is “a meaningful part of the registration process.”

Justice Alito likened his proposed process to the common application used by many colleges and universities. Those institutions, he said, “also require that applicants submit various additional forms and documents.”

Justice Scalia wrote that Arizona had additional options if it wished to obtain documentary proof of citizenship. It may ask the Election Assistance Commission, a federal body, to make changes to the federal form.

Arizona made such a request in 2005, and the commission split 2 to 2, effectively rejecting it. The state did not challenge that action in federal court. The commission recently approved a request from Louisiana to require additional information from its voters, Justice Scalia noted. He said Arizona could ask again.

In dissent, Justice Alito said the majority was giving the state an empty promise. He pointed out that the commission “currently has no members, and there is no reason to believe that it will be restored to life in the near future.” In response, Justice Scalia suggested that the state could sue in federal court based on its inability to obtain relief from the commission.

Last year, a divided 10-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the federal and state laws “do not operate harmoniously” and “are seriously out of tune with each other in several ways.” The court blocked the state law.

The decision from that panel effectively affirmed a 2010 ruling from a three-judge panel that included Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who retired from the Supreme Court in 2006 but occasionally acts as a visiting appeals court judge. She joined the majority in ruling that the state law was inconsistent with the federal one and so could not survive.

Justice O’Connor was in the Supreme Court’s courtroom on Monday to see the announcement of the decision.
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Old 06-17-2013, 03:58 PM   #2
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Good. As a law abiding citizen I shouldn't have to proven my citizenship.
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Old 06-17-2013, 04:06 PM   #3
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Old 06-17-2013, 04:16 PM   #4
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Good. As a law abiding citizen I shouldn't have to proven my citizenship.
I'm inclined to agree with this, but I've honestly not done too much reading up on the entire topic.
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Old 06-17-2013, 04:27 PM   #5
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The ruling was that the state law was superceded by federal law, more or less. This wasn't any grand declaration of rights or anything.
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Old 06-18-2013, 02:43 AM   #6
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Re: Supreme Court Justices Block Law Requiring Voters to Prove Citizenship

Perhaps not any "new" rights, but certainly a resounding affirmation of existing voting rights and a useful bulwark against diminishing that right and voter suppression efforts. Given the 7-2 vote, including arch conservative Scalia, this can't simply be brushed off as some sort of liberal judicial activism.

Perhaps the GOP should redirect its energies from suppressing votes to attracting them.
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Old 06-18-2013, 06:41 AM   #7
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lol there is no proof of any votes being suppressed, you're ridiculous
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Old 06-18-2013, 06:44 AM   #8
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Supreme Court Justices Block Law Requiring Voters to Prove Citizenship

Good. At least someone in the government is upholding people's rights


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Old 06-18-2013, 10:36 AM   #9
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lol there is no proof of any votes being suppressed, you're ridiculous
Voter Suppression in America

Voter suppression: Examples in the United States

Colorado Secretary Of State Responsible For Voter Suppression Fined For Ethics Violations

New Voter Suppression Efforts Prove the Voting Rights Act Is Still Needed

Research Backs Up Voter Suppression Claims, But Media Stay In False-Balance Mode
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Old 06-18-2013, 10:48 AM   #10
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Out of curiosity, why does anyone feel it's ridiculous to prove citizenship in order to participate in one of the most important decisions made in this nation?
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Old 06-18-2013, 10:52 AM   #11
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Supreme Court Justices Block Law Requiring Voters to Prove Citizenship

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Out of curiosity, why does anyone feel it's ridiculous to prove citizenship in order to participate in one of the most important decisions made in this nation?
Slippery slope. Am I going to get a free gov't issued ID card that satisfies my citizenship requirement? If they charge me anything for it, it's a de facto poll tax. My birth certificate doesn't have a picture, so I need a free picture ID to back it up.


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Old 06-18-2013, 10:57 AM   #12
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The ruling was that the state law was superceded by federal law, more or less. This wasn't any grand declaration of rights or anything.
Correct. They didn't block the ID law. Their point was simply that you cannot tack on any OTHER requirements ON TOP of the federal registration form. That just means the federal registration form will need to be updated to reflect that. It is just a technicality/loophole that will be fixed.
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Old 06-18-2013, 10:58 AM   #13
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Perhaps not any "new" rights, but certainly a resounding affirmation of existing voting rights and a useful bulwark against diminishing that right and voter suppression efforts. Given the 7-2 vote, including arch conservative Scalia, this can't simply be brushed off as some sort of liberal judicial activism.

Perhaps the GOP should redirect its energies from suppressing votes to attracting them.
Wrong.
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Old 06-18-2013, 10:59 AM   #14
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Out of curiosity, why does anyone feel it's ridiculous to prove citizenship in order to participate in one of the most important decisions made in this nation?
The same people feel it is ok to put "reasonable restrictions" on the second amendment, but putting a reasonable restriction on voting is the end of the world.
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Old 06-18-2013, 11:01 AM   #15
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The same people feel it is ok to put "reasonable restrictions" on the second amendment, but putting a reasonable restriction on voting is the end of the world.
I'm OK with reasonable restrictions on the 2A.....things like not allowing criminals, the mentally inept, etc. to own firearms.

The same applies to voting in certain states.

Do you view these as unreasonable?

On the flip side, I don't think I should have to show my BC, Passport and SS card every time I purchase a firearm nor do I think I should have to do so when I go to vote.
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Old 06-18-2013, 11:02 AM   #16
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Slippery slope. Am I going to get a free gov't issued ID card that satisfies my citizenship requirement? If they charge me anything for it, it's a de facto poll tax. My birth certificate doesn't have a picture, so I need a free picture ID to back it up.


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Does the government provide free paperwork for me to exercise my 2nd amendment right? No. It cost me $40 for the application, $75 for fingerprinting, and $15 for every NICS check everytime I buy a gun...which by the way, is a right. If you are going to have an argument, make sure it's consistent.
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Old 06-18-2013, 11:04 AM   #17
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I'm OK with reasonable restrictions on the 2A.....things like not allowing criminals, the mentally inept, etc. to own firearms.

The same applies to voting in certain states.

Do you view these as unreasonable?

On the flip side, I don't think I should have to show my BC, Passport and SS card every time I purchase a firearm nor do I think I should have to do so when I go to vote.
Again, have a consistent argument. It's either one way or another. If a legal citizen shouldn't need to show ID to vote (since we are assuming that he is a legal citizen and not lying) then a law abiding citizen shouldn't need to get any permits or paperwork to buy a gun, since we assume that he is a law abiding citizen. It is against the law for illegals or non citizens to vote. It is against the law for criminals to buy a gun. Pick one.
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Old 06-18-2013, 11:05 AM   #18
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Does the government provide free paperwork for me to exercise my 2nd amendment right? No. It cost me $40 for the application, $75 for fingerprinting, and $15 for every NICS check everytime I buy a gun...which by the way, is a right. If you are going to have an argument, make sure it's consistent.
Everytime??

My brother lives in NJ and complains of the fees but I never asked him to break them down.

It costs me $10 for the NICS check every time, which is reasonable. I don't need a license, fingerprinting, application, or any of that. Sheesh.
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Old 06-18-2013, 11:05 AM   #19
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Again, have a consistent argument. It's either one way or another. If a legal citizen shouldn't need to show ID to vote (since we are assuming that he is a legal citizen and not lying) then a law abiding citizen shouldn't need to get any permits or paperwork to buy a gun, since we assume that he is a law abiding citizen. It is against the law for illegals or non citizens to vote. It is against the law for criminals to buy a gun. Pick one.
How do you know if someone is a criminal without checking for ID?
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Old 06-18-2013, 11:06 AM   #20
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How do you know if someone is a criminal without checking for ID?
How do you know someone is a citizen of the United States of America without checking their passport? Your question implies a person is guilty and must prove their innocence.
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