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AG Tom Horne: US Supreme Court Decision Shows Ultimate Path For Arizona Victory

Phoenix, AZ (Monday, June 17, 2013) – Today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Arizona’s voter registration citizenship proof requirement is not the end of the process, and the Court set forth a clear pathway to victory for that requirement, Attorney General Tom Horne said today.

“The U.S. Supreme Court has given us a clear path to victory for the people of Arizona, who overwhelmingly approved the state constitutional amendment that was the subject of the legal challenge,” Horne said.  "Since the U.S. Supreme Court has made it clear that this pathway exists, Arizona should use it. The sanctity of the ballot box is a cherished right for all Americans and it must be protected.” 

In the case of Arizona v Intertribal Council, Arizona sought a reversal of a Ninth Circuit ruling that Arizona was prohibited from asking people registering to vote for evidence of citizenship. Although the Supreme Court declined to reverse the Ninth Circuit at this time, at page 15 of the Opinion, the Supreme Court laid out a path for eventual victory by the state. 

At page 15, the Courts stated: 

"Since the power to establish voting requirements is of little value without the power to enforce those requirements, Arizona is correct that it would raise serious constitutional doubts if a federal statute precluded a State from obtaining the information necessary to enforce its voter qualification”.

In this case, Arizona has a constitutional right to obtain the information (evidence of citizenship) necessary to enforce its voter qualifications (that only citizens can vote). 

To obtain this constitutional relief, the Court stated that Arizona would have to go to the Federal Elections Assistance Commission, and if it does not obtain relief there, go back to Court.

Arizona did seek this relief in 2005, which was denied, and, under a previous Attorney General, Arizona did not appeal. The Court made clear that Arizona could return to the EAC and then, if it failed to get relief, return to Court.