SCOTUS Takes Down Arizona Voting Law

Only 2 Justices stood with the writings in the Constitution

(US News) The Supreme Court on Monday struck down an Arizona law that requires people to submit proof of citizenship when they register to vote.

The vote was 7-2. Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, said that a 1993 federal law known as the Motor Voter Act takes precedence over the Arizona law because of its requirement that states “accept and use” the federal voter registration form.

From WRAL, where I first saw this

The Constitution “authorizes states to determine the qualifications of voters in federal elections, which necessarily includes the related power to determine whether those qualifications are satisfied,” Thomas said in his dissent.

Justice Alito was the other dissenting vote.

Let’s put this into context: The government is looking to legalize up to 11 million illegals. None of them would be citizens, and will have no right to vote as long as they are under the provisional status. Yet, federal law is rather weak on registering to vote, and this SCOTUS ruling means states which have a large population of illegals could see vast numbers registering with no way to determine eligibility. Go look up the requirements to register and see how easy it is to commit fraud.

More: From SCOTUSblog, via the link that Guitar Carver left in the comments that goes to this one

If a reader of the Scalia opinion stopped at the top of page 13, the impression would be very clear that Congress had won hands down in the field of regulating federal elections.   But from that point on, there is abundant encouragement for what is essentially a states’ rights argument: that is, that the states have very wide authority to define who gets to vote, in both state and federal elections.

On the particular point at issue in this case — Arizona’s requirement of proof of citizenship before one may register to vote or actually vote — the Scalia opinion said that a state was free to ask the federal government for permission to add that requirement.   And, Scalia said, if that doesn’t work — either because the federal agency that would deal with such a request is either not functioning or says no — then a state would be free to go to court and make an argument that it has a constitutional right to insist on proof of citizenship as an absolute qualification for voting, in all elections.

However, no one should think that the Obama/Holder heavily politicized and illegal immigrant favoring DOJ would allow any requirements for proof of citizenship, especially if the Gang of 8 immigration bill passes. Democrats will want as many people voting as the can, even if they are not entitled to do so. In fact, as a sidebar, if the bill passes, Dems will immediately agitate and push to make them naturalized citizens ASAP, forget 13 years. But, in the intervening time, they will allow no measures that would require proof of eligibility to vote, and the left side groups will certainly work to register the illegals with provisional status.

As far as court goes, one could expect the DOJ to gum up the works as long as possible, and surely past the 2016 General Election.

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14 Comments

Comment by Phineas Subscribed to comments via email
2013-06-17 14:34:45

The Constitution “authorizes states to determine the qualifications of voters in federal elections, which necessarily includes the related power to determine whether those qualifications are satisfied,” Thomas said in his dissent.

I don’t think it’s as clear-cut a case as Thomas makes it; federal law has been generally held to take precedence over state law and Motor Voter (a terrible bill, IMHO) specifies the particular form for registration. What Arizona did was to essentially rewrite the federal legislation to add requirements. I think Scalia, et al., were probably right to rule the way they did.*

The correct solution overall would be to recognize M-V as itself unconstitutional for treading on the states’ authority to determine election qualifications.

*(SB 1070, the immigration bill, largely passed muster because it simply mandated the enforcement of existing federal law. It didn’t try to rewrite or amend it.)

 
Comment by JGlanton
2013-06-17 14:58:30

Why don’t AZ just require proof of AZ citizenship to vote?

 
Comment by gitarcarver
2013-06-17 16:23:30

This was generally a very narrow ruling in scope and as some are pointing out, may fence in the Federal government more than if does the states.

I suggest people take the time to read here:

http://www.scotusblog.com/2013/06/pyrrhic-victory-for-federal-government-in-arizona-voter-registration-case/#more-165173

The decision is here:

http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/12-71_7l48.pdf

This may be one of those decisions where the Supreme Court had to rule one way because of the facts, but see something wrong in the issue at hand. If you read the opinion, there does seem to be a “road map” to where Arizona can make a case that would be supported by the Court.

 
Comment by William Teach
2013-06-17 19:05:15

I understand your points, Phineas, but States should be able to ask for something that proves citizenship in order to allow people to register to vote, especially in an area that is prone to having lots of non-citizens. Federal law is way too tepid and can easily allow non-citizens to vote.

Why don’t AZ just require proof of AZ citizenship to vote?

That would be raaaaacist.

Read that, GT, proving an excerpt.

 
Comment by gitarcarver
2013-06-17 21:08:43

However, no one should think that the Obama/Holder heavily politicized and illegal immigrant favoring DOJ would allow any requirements for proof of citizenship….

I know you said you read the link, but the opinion itself is interesting. The Justices basically said that the State had no right to “add” another condition to registering to vote such as providing proof of citizenship.

However, the State could challenge the effectiveness of the “Motor Voter” law which requires a simple declaration of citizenship.

If the State can show voter fraud (which shouldn’t be hard) then I think the Justices will have to review it. Because the issue is so ripe, (upcoming elections as you noted) it will be fast tracked.

The worst thing that can happen is for conservatives to moan and groan and go back into their holes. We take what appear to be setbacks all too easily. Liberals have much more patience and a long term view it seems.

Arizona needs to get back on the horse and take the road laid out for them by the Supreme Court.

 
Comment by The_End_Of_Gumballs Subscribed to comments via email
2013-06-17 21:40:01

I’m confused about the “adding a condition to vote”. If states are allowed to set conditions, are allowed themselves to set candidates and rules and dates, and can set who can vote and who can not,…. then I don’t understand how making sure that people are citizens is violating federal law.

Besides, most elections are local or state level. Are the feds now saying they have a right to dictate how states hold elections?

 
Comment by William Teach
2013-06-17 22:17:58

You have a good point about not getting pessimistic, GC, buuuuuut (knew that was coming, right?), we have to consider that court preceedings cost a lot of money, and we cannot necessarily trust Republicans to keep going in the face of all the assaults that will come from Dems and the media. It’s that trust factor for elected Republicans.

But, yeah, we should keep pushing.

Besides, most elections are local or state level. Are the feds now saying they have a right to dictate how states hold elections?

Yes. Los Federales want to dictate everything.

 
Comment by gitarcarver
2013-06-17 22:30:37

Gumball,

…then I don’t understand how making sure that people are citizens is violating federal law.

No, and that’s the key to this. The Federal Motor Voter law already requires a declaration that the person is a citizen. That declaration is supposed to be under the penalty of perjury.

The Court said that what Arizona was asking was that the person prove a statement which they had already said was true. The Court said the requirement from Arizona was a duplicate requirement which Arizona tried to say was different. They Court didn’t buy that argument.

In other words, Arizona was saying “we want proof of citizenship!” and the Feds said “you have it in the declaration.” The Court agreed to that argument.

The Constitution allows states to set up voter eligibility requirements, but the Court simply said the requirement was a duplicate of the Federal requirement and therefore they could not add it.

If Arizona can show the declaration of citizenship under the threat of perjury does not perform the same task as proving citizenship in Arizona, they will win.

Teach,

we have to consider that court preceedings cost a lot of money,

Yes they do, but Prop 200 (I think that was the bill in Arizona) was passed overwhelmingly by the citizens. If the Republicans and outside interests do not pursue this, we might as well just quit every time something goes against us. I can’t believe that if the situation were reversed, and Democrats had lost a narrow decision but were given a road map on how to win, they would not be all over it like Anthony Weiner and young girls.

We have to learn to rebound and take long term views on things – not just what is right in front of us.

“Never give up. Never surrender!”

 
Comment by The_End_Of_Gumballs Subscribed to comments via email
2013-06-17 23:14:30

“Never give up. Never surrender!”

And yet you seem to be willing to roll over for the legalization of illegals.

While I can see how some liberals might view the citizenship aspect as duplicative, having a person sign that they are and one that has them proving it are not the same thing. The fact that the SCOTUS could not see this to me shows their blindness in reality and common sense. I can say I did not rob a bank, and if the state does not have the right to prove it, then I can get off scott-free.

This ruling is as idiotic and damning to our nation as was the ObamaCare ruling. We are at the end of our nation folks. When was the last time common sense ruled here? Other countries are passing us by now. We are killing our own and destroying our nation for those that we choose to have life.

sorry.. am tired. got off on a rant.

 
Comment by Phineas Subscribed to comments via email
2013-06-17 23:29:22

This opinion from Christian Adams, a conservative lawyer specializing in election law, might help: The Arizona Nothingburger.

 
Comment by gitarcarver
2013-06-18 10:08:12

And yet you seem to be willing to roll over for the legalization of illegals.

In fact, you were the one advocating “doing nothing.”

“Doing nothing” means not requiring the use of an E-Verify system, not deporting anyone, not closing the borders, etc.

Nothing means nothing.

If you want to try and represent my statement that it is a fact that we have an immigration problem and must do something about it as “rolling over,” that’s on you.

 
Comment by The_End_Of_Gumballs Subscribed to comments via email
2013-06-18 10:22:14

Again gitarcarver, no. I’m proposing status quo. I’m proposing we do nothing on this bill. We are debating the merits, legality, and the affect this bill will have on the US and its citizens.

Note, I have said that we already deport and we already have laws on books to punish the illegal trespassers and those who would employ them. We need to increase THAT aspect.

It is this president that has shirked his duty and disobeyed the law and his authority in his curtailment of arrests and deportation of the offenders of our border.

I could give a flying flip about the shadowy nature of these illegals. If they broke our rules and our laws, then the law says for them to leave or get kicked out. I’m fine with that. As I’ve said.

 
Comment by gitarcarver
2013-06-18 11:39:50

Again gitarcarver, no. I’m proposing status quo.

Let’s go back to the conversation, shall we?

I wrote: “The only “fact” of which I am sure is that we have too many illegal immigrants in this country and we need to do something about it.”

You responded with “why?” as in “why do we have to do anything about having too many illegal immigrants in the country?”

A I pointed out, the opposite of doing something is doing nothing.

A position you then advocated saying: “I’m the one proposing doing nothing.”

As I said, “nothing means nothing.” And “doing nothing” means not requiring the use of an E-Verify system, not deporting anyone, not closing the borders, etc.”

However, even in the above post you aren’t quite clear:

You write: I’m proposing status quo.

And then say: “We need to increase THAT aspect.”

(By definition, that is not maintaining the “status quo.”)

I am sorry Gumball, but you have said you favor doing nothing, then said you wish to maintain the status quo, and then say you wish to increase actions. I don’t find a lot of consistency there which means it is difficult to discuss this.

I stated and still believe that there is a problem with illegal immigration and that something has to be done about it. (Feel free to disagree with that statement all you want.) What that “something” is, I am not sure. It seems pretty clear to me that what we are doing now isn’t working well so we have to look at other solutions. Whether those other solutions include parts or all of the Gang of 8′s bill, and or include increased enforcement, and or include yet unproposed solutions, etc., I don’t know.

 
Comment by The_End_Of_Gumballs Subscribed to comments via email
2013-06-18 21:02:24

Ok. sigh.
Sometimes your knack for whittling away grammar and specific words is hilarious, but as a recipient we know it has to be frustrating. And this is frustrating.

Our conversation was about the Amnesty bill. The proposition in front of Congress is to allow those who are here illegally, and for those with a job – violating all kinds of other laws, to be forgiven those penal punishments and remain here in the US and get on a track for citizenship.

That bill is… doing something. I ask why we need to “do something”? What is wrong with leaving things as they are? Status Quo. We have laws currently under status quo that bar illegal immigration, kick illegals out, and have certain punishments for businesses that hire illegals.

IF… we were to do something, then “we need to increase that aspect” pertaining to a bill that is separate from this bill, that would\could\should increase punishments and prevention.

Should my proposed bill to increase punishments and border-crossing prevention not see the light of day, then the status quo is sufficient to address all of our concerns at this time.

The question of why revolves around why do we need to do something about the illegal immigration RIGHT NOW and pass this amnesty bill RIGHT NOW. Why? Why must we address the current situation now with a new bill? Currently, illegals are “illegal” by default. By default they are illegally here and are therefore subject to a fine and/or imprisonment followed by deportation.

There are even laws that focus on those with expired Visas. Currently, law states that if you leave before a judgement is made against you, then based on the amount of time that has passed since the Visa has expired, you will be banned from returning to the US (I believe) from 5 to 10 years.

Why is this now not good enough? Why do we need to pass a law that forgives illegals of their crimes, allow them to stay in the US and free from deportation, while others are banned from re-entering even if they get a renewed Visa.

Status Quo is perfectly capable of handling the Visa, illegal immigration, etc. I propose we Do Nothing to change the status quo. If changes are to be made, we need to strengthen or increase current law, not weaken it. This current amnesty bill weakens it.

 

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