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Another Key Voting Rights Case Before the United States Supreme Court

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Monday, March 18, 2013

Today, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Arizona v. The Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, another important voting case, in addition to Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, before the Court this term. This case involves whether Arizona’s Proposition 200, which requires new voter registrants to produce documentary evidence of United States citizenship, must yield to the federal National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).

Congress enacted the NVRA in 1993 to make voter registration opportunities more widely available and politically engage the most marginalized in our democracy: people of color and the poor. As intended by Congress, voter registration increased dramatically, with 20 million new voters, nearly half of whom were voters of color, registering between 1995 and June 1996.

Citing a need to combat attempts by undocumented immigrants to register to vote, but failing to identify a single instance of one, Arizona adopted Proposition 200 in 2004. Following the enactment of Proposition 200, Arizona rejected the registration applications of more than 30,000 individuals, nearly 17 percent of whom were Latino people.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting en banc, struck down Proposition 200 as applied to the Federal Form, a nationally uniform voter application that applicants can use to register by mail; on this Form, registrants must already declare that they meet eligibility requirements, including United States citizenship. The Court of Appeals recognized that Proposition 200 was both inconsistent with and preempted by the NVRA.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights are counsel in this case. View MALDEF’s lead counsel Nina Perales’ appearance on Melissa Harris-Perry discussing this case.

Read LDF’s amicus brief, urging the Supreme Court to uphold the Court of Appeals’ ruling that Proposition 200 is preempted by the NVRA.