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Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc. (Amicus Brief)

On June 17, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Arizona v. The Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc. that Proposition 200, an Arizona law requiring applicants to present documentary proof of citizenship as a condition for voter registration, is preempted by Congress’s power to regulate federal elections.

Published: June 17, 2013

On June 17, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Arizona v. The Inter Tribal Coun­cil of Arizona, Inc. that Propos­i­tion 200, an Arizona law requir­ing applic­ants to present docu­ment­ary proof of citizen­ship as a condi­tion for voter regis­tra­tion, is pree­mp­ted by Congress’s power to regu­late federal elec­tions.

In Octo­ber 2010, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that Arizon­a’s docu­ment­ary proof of citizen­ship require­ment for voter regis­tra­tion viol­ates the National Voter Regis­tra­tion Act (NVRA). In April 2012, the en banc Court agreed with the earlier panel decision that the Arizona proof of citizen­ship require­ment was pree­mp­ted by the NVRA. Arizona reques­ted that the Supreme Court review the Ninth Circuit’s decision, and in Octo­ber 2012, the Supreme Court gran­ted certi­or­ari.

The Bren­nan Center, along with the Consti­tu­tional Account­ab­il­ity Center, filed an amicus brief on behalf of consti­tu­tional law profess­ors explain­ing that in enact­ing the NVRA, Congress acted for the very reas­ons at the core of the text and history of the Elec­tions Clause, using its express power to protect the right to vote and ensure a uniform method of voter regis­tra­tion across all fifty states. The amicus brief argues that Congress chose to “alter” state-law require­ments such as Arizon­a’s and urges the Supreme Court to inval­id­ate Propos­i­tion 200. 

The Supreme Court decision upholds the Ninth Circuit ruling, reject­ing Arizon­a’s effort to impose addi­tional regis­tra­tion require­ments that conflict with the NVRA’s require­ment that states “accept and use” the stand­ard federal voter regis­tra­tion form.

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