Skip Navigation
Court Case Tracker

Kobach et al. v. The United States Election Assistance Commission

The Brennan Center, along with co-counsel Kirkland & Ellis and Fleeson, Gooing, Coulson & Kitch, LLC, represents the League of Women Voters of the United States, along with its Arizona and Kansas affiliates, in a lawsuit opposing harsh state laws that require documentary proof of citizenship to register to vote.

Published: June 29, 2015

The Bren­nan Center, along with co-coun­sel Kirk­land & Ellis and Fleeson, Gooing, Coulson & Kitch, LLC, repres­ents the League of Women Voters of the United States, along with its Arizona and Kansas affil­i­ates, in a lawsuit oppos­ing harsh state laws that require docu­ment­ary proof of citizen­ship to register to vote. The League joined the U.S. Elec­tion Assist­ance Commis­sion (EAC) as Defend­ants in a suit, Kris W. Kobach et al. v. United States Elec­tion Assist­ance Commis­sion, filed by Arizona and Kansas offi­cials in August.

In a June 2013 opin­ion, Arizona v. Inter Tribal Coun­cil of Arizona, Inc., the Supreme Court inval­id­ated Arizon­a’s law requir­ing docu­ment­ary proof of citizen­ship as it applied to the federal regis­tra­tion form. The Court found Arizon­a’s law viol­ated the National Voter Regis­tra­tion Act (NVRA), a 1993 law that, pursu­ant to Congress’s power to regu­late federal elec­tions, provides a simple applic­a­tion card that eligible Amer­ic­ans may use to register to vote for federal races. Arizona, along with Kansas, are now attempt­ing to change that result; the states seek to force the EAC to change the federal form to allow them to require docu­ment­ary proof of citizen­ship, which the federal form does not allow. On Janu­ary 17, 2014, the EAC issued a decision deny­ing the states’ requests. Kansas and Arizona sought judi­cial review of the decision, and a federal district court heard oral argu­ment on Febru­ary 11.  

The League, one of the longest stand­ing voter regis­tra­tion organ­iz­a­tions in the nation, argues that docu­ment­ary proof of citizen­ship require­ments harm its nonpar­tisan voter regis­tra­tion efforts, under­min­ing its core mission of promot­ing voter parti­cip­a­tion, and that Arizona and Kansas should not be permit­ted to circum­vent Congress’s protec­tion of the right to register to vote in federal elec­tions. 

On March 19, a District Court ruled that the EAC must change the federal regis­tra­tion form to allow the states to require docu­ment­ary proof. The League, along with the other Inter­ven­ors and the EAC, appealed the decision, and the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals stayed the District Court’s order pending appeal.

On May 27, the Bren­nan Center, along with its co-coun­sel and coun­sel for other parties, submit­ted a brief on behalf of the League and other Inter­ven­ors. Oral argu­ment was held August 25. 

On Novem­ber 7, the Tenth Circuit issued a ruling in our favor, hold­ing that the EAC need not include the states’ require­ments on the federal form. 

On March 21, Kansas and Arizona filed a Peti­tion for Writ of Certi­or­ari in the Supreme Court of the United States appeal­ing the Tenth Circuit Court’s ruling that the EAC need not include the state’s require­ments on the federal form. On May 26, the Bren­nan Center, along with its co-coun­sel and coun­sel for other parties, submit­ted a brief in oppos­i­tion to Kansas and Arizon­a’s Peti­tion for Writ of Certi­or­ari. 

On June 29, the Supreme Court of the United States denied Kansas and Arizon­a’s peti­tion for Writ of Certi­or­ari, thereby letting stand the 10th Circuit’s ruling that the states may not force applic­ants using the federal voter regis­tra­tion form to show docu­ments prov­ing citizen­ship when regis­ter­ing to vote in federal races. 

Further Inform­a­tion

District Court Docu­ments

Appel­late Court Docu­ments