Antonin Scalia | Arizona | News | Supreme Court

Supreme Court Strikes Down Restrictive Arizona Voting Law: VIDEO

SupremesIn a surprise move, the Supreme Court today ruled 7-2 that Arizona cannot require voters to prove their citizenship when submitting voter registration forms.  The New York Times reports on the ruling, authored by Justice Antonin Scalia (yes--you read that right):

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.

Today's ruling was centered around the concept of 'preemption,' under which the federal laws are generally seen to trump state laws.  Think Progress has more on the preemption issue, which Scalia ruled is especially pertinent in laws affecting federal elections:

As the Court points out, this broad view of the federal role in governing elections is consistent with the Constitution’s text, which provides that “[t]he times, places and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by law make or alter such regulations.”

The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the constitutionality of a major component of the Voting Rights Act by the end of next week.

Watch an MSNBC analysis of today's ruling, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. Does anyone actually think that check box will stop people that have already shown contempt for the law from illegally registering to vote?

    Posted by: me | Jun 17, 2013 8:43:42 PM

  2. Shall we start calling them undocumented voters now?

    Posted by: me | Jun 17, 2013 8:44:25 PM

  3. There has to be a better way to deal with voter registration than what we currently do. Other countries don't seem to have this problem and have far higher voter turnout.

    Posted by: Houndentenor | Jun 17, 2013 9:00:14 PM

  4. To the morons who don't know what they're talking about: the federal form requires a driver license # or the last four digits of a social security number. The Arizona law tried to go even further than that. Furthermore, all voter registrations and voting activity (when and where, but not who they vote for) are public records. They're vetted by plenty of conservative groups.

    But really, the idea that undocumented immigrants, who live in dire fear of the federal government, would actually commit public fraud to participate in a government activity only 50% of eligible citizens even bother with, is beyond ridiculous. It only exists in the fetid and stunted imaginations of tea party xenophobes.

    Posted by: LetSodomRing | Jun 17, 2013 9:02:05 PM

  5. A sad day for the Republic. It is not about the Tea Party or Xenophobia. There is nothing wrong with being requiring. There is nothing wrong with being held to standard. And calling some one a moron is not very nice.

    Posted by: HA!! | Jun 17, 2013 9:15:51 PM

  6. Whoa!! This is a stunner. And from Justice Scalia himself? Wow. I'm...speechless. Nice.

    Posted by: MickyFlip | Jun 17, 2013 9:20:42 PM

  7. It's not a matter of whether Arizona's requirements were reasonable. It's simply a matter of any state not being able to trump federal law when it comes to elections. That is specifically in the Constitution. So no matter what the federal law is, a state law cannot be more stringent.

    If the citizens of Arizona, or any other state, want more stringent restrictions, they have to work for it at the federal level.

    Posted by: Zlick | Jun 17, 2013 9:25:47 PM

  8. Thanks, letsodomring. Well put.

    Posted by: gwyneth cornrow | Jun 17, 2013 9:32:06 PM

  9. Yup, they live in fear of the federal government...yet have no issue messing with the social security adminstration, IRS, etc.

    Posted by: me | Jun 17, 2013 9:35:15 PM

  10. You need a lot more than the last 4 digits of an SSN to get a job...yet that doesn't seem to be to difficult for them.

    Posted by: me | Jun 17, 2013 9:38:20 PM

  11. This could be fixed with a national ID card, but the teavangelical types oppose it because it's the "mark of the beast" or some similar nonsense. Seriously.

    Posted by: Merv | Jun 17, 2013 9:53:53 PM

  12. Correct decision, and even from putrid souls like Scalia. Voting isn't supposed to be difficult. And we'll said, @LetSodomRing.

    Posted by: Ernie | Jun 17, 2013 11:08:39 PM

  13. Make that "well said"--damn you, autocorrect.

    Posted by: Ernie | Jun 17, 2013 11:09:41 PM

  14. LetSodomRing, I concur (and love your name)

    Posted by: UFFDA | Jun 17, 2013 11:32:27 PM

  15. The ruling is not as bad as it sounds. Arizona (or any other state) can petition the federal government to add special requirements for their particular state to the generic form. The court said Arizona should sue the Feds if Obama's people turn such a request down. Sounds like the ruling was more about procedure than about principle.

    Posted by: ernstroehm's ghost | Jun 17, 2013 11:40:18 PM

  16. I live in Arizona. There is NO EVIDENCE that non-citizens have ever voted in large numbers in this state. By large numbers, I mean more than two or three individuals. No one is being caught doing so in any of Arizona's 15 counties.

    Of course, there are plenty of racist morons who will continue to insist that this isn't true.

    Posted by: homer | Jun 18, 2013 1:01:28 AM

  17. I am 49 years old. I think that we have some other issues in this world. Your GAY. OK we get it gay queens. I hope your ready to fight in a war that is coming.

    Posted by: stephen | Jun 18, 2013 4:26:14 AM

  18. @Zlick is right, and the vote of 7-2 signifies that this ruling is unlikely to be overturned in the future. I agree completely with the decision. Racists are going to have to find some other was to persecute legal immigrants.

    Posted by: Jack M | Jun 18, 2013 8:05:22 AM

  19. The federal law is ridiculous. Asking and expecting a voter to legally prove who they are, and that they're entitled to vote, is hardly restrictive or an attempt to deny lawful citizens their right to vote.

    We need a sophisticated, biometric national ID card in this country. I don't care who you are, what your politics are, the fraud is getting ridiculous, and it's not just voter fraud,either.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Jun 18, 2013 12:32:09 PM

  20. @LetSodomRing,

    I do know how the federal law works, and it's a joke, easily manipulated. I personally managed to get voter registration and indeed voted, when I moved to a new locale, and NEVER had to 'prove' the info I provided was true and accurate.

    It is beyond comprehension why a simple thing like being able to prove who you are when you vote, with a legal form of identification, which can be instantly verified through a data base, bothers some people poo-less. You can do NOTHING of any legal consequence without first proving your identity. It's basically impossible or next to impossible to function in this society without having legal form[s] of identification. My only conclusion is massive voter fraud is knowingly going on, and both main political parties are in on it.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Jun 18, 2013 12:38:12 PM

  21. Those using the old 'racist' and 'xenophobe' card makes their motivations and sincerity highly suspect.

    I would be amused [if that's the word to use] if I was living in another country, say Mexico or the UK, and as a non-citizen or even illegal 'immigrant' I applied to vote and it was made incredibly easy for me. I would fully expect to have to provide solid verifiable identification at both the time of application and registration, and at the voting station.


    Posted by: ratbastard | Jun 18, 2013 12:43:45 PM

  22. As for anyone mentioning SS numbers:

    I worked for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for a 1 1/2 years processing people's welfare [transitional assistance it's called in MA] claims, and at the time we were instructed to give those without any SS # a fake one, which the state provided. There are a multitiude of other ways for people to get their hands on a SS number not legally there's. one popular way is to use a person with the same name as you who has died, or simply to commit identity fraud and use the SS number of a dead person, preferably a dead child. It's VERY easy to pick up a birth certificate at most city halls.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Jun 18, 2013 12:48:31 PM

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