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Supreme Court Rules that Arizona's Discriminatory Proof of Citizenship Measure is Blocked by Federal Law

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6/17/13

Washington, D.C.--Today, the United States Supreme Court blocked Arizona’s attempt to make eligible voters provide "evidence of citizenship" in order to register to vote.  In the case, Arizona v. ITCA, the Supreme Court struck down Arizona's "Proposition 200" as pre-empted by the Federal Form provided by the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).

"We are gratified by the Supreme Court's ruling that the National Voter Registration Act preempts Proposition 200," said Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF). "The Supreme Court's ruling affirms Congress' intent in enacting the National Voter Registration Act: to expand America’s promise of democracy by making voter registration opportunities more widely available to all Americans regardless of race or socioeconomic status.  The ruling also protects the more than 30,000 individuals whose registration applications were rejected following the passage of Proposition 200, nearly 17 percent of whom were Latinos."

Between 2000 and 2010, the number of Latinos in Arizona increased by 600,000, and Latinos now comprise 30 percent of the state’s population. Citing a need to combat voting by undocumented immigrants, but failing to identify a single instance of it, Arizona responded by adopting Proposition 200.  This discriminatory measure required county registrars to reject any application for registration that is not accompanied by certain types of documentary evidence of United States citizenship.

The case was brought by Jesus Gonzalez, a naturalized U.S. citizen who was rejected for voter registration under Arizona Proposition 200.  Mr. Gonzales is represented by MALDEF (the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund).  LDF filed an amicus brief arguing that Arizona's proposed law would undermine the hard-fought progress that has been made in combating discrimination in the political process.

LDF recently prevailed in Scott, et al. v. Schedler, et al., a successful challenge to the State of Louisiana's failure to comply with the NVRA.  

The Supreme Court will also soon rule on the constitutionality of a core provision of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, a case in which LDF is counsel.