9th Circuit Court of Appeals strikes down Arizona’s Prop. 200 proof of citizenship requirement for voter registration

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals today, in the case of Maria Gonzales, et al. v. State of Arizona, et al., Case No. 08-17094, has ruled that Arizona's Prop. 200 (2004) requiring documentary proof of citizenship to register to vote is superceded by the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), 42 U.S.C. § 1973gg et seq., and is invalid (under the Elections Clause of the U.S. Constitution – federal preemption doctrine).

The state law provision requiring photo identification to cast a ballot at the polls is upheld (based upon the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Crawford v. Marion Cnty. Elections Bd., 128 S. Ct. 1610, 1616 (2008) (plurality opinion)).

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel was comprised of Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, sitting by designation; Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge; and Sandra S. Ikuta, Circuit Judge. It was a 2-1 decision. The Opinion is by Circuit Judge Sandra Ikuta, and the Dissent by Chief Judge Alex Kozinski.

Here is the for publication opinion. http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2010/10/26/08-17094.pdf. Brief summary of opinion:


IKUTA, Circuit Judge:

Proposition 200 requires prospective voters in Arizona to present documentary proof of citizenship in order to register to vote, Ariz. Rev. Stat. §§ 16-152, 16-166, and requires registered voters to present proof of identification in order to cast a ballot at the polls, Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 16-159. This appeal raises the questions whether Proposition 200 violates the Voting Rights Act § 2, 42 U.S.C. § 1973, is unconstitutional under the Fourteenth or Twenty-fourth Amendments of the Constitution, or is void as inconsistent with the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), 42 U.S.C. § 1973gg et seq. We hold that the NVRA supersedes Proposition 200’s voter registration procedures, and that Arizona’s documentary proof of citizenship requirement for registration is therefore invalid. We reject the remainder of Appellants’ arguments.

The majority Opinion conclusion:

Our system of dual sovereignty, which gives the state and federal governments the authority to operate within their separate spheres, “is one of the Constitution’s structural protections of liberty.” Printz v. United States, 521 U.S. 898, 921 (1997). “Just as the separation and independence of the coordinate branches of the Federal Government serve to prevent the accumulation of excessive power in any one branch, a healthy balance of power between the States and the Federal Government will reduce the risk of tyranny and abuse from either front.” Id. (quoting Gregory, 501 U.S. at 458). Despite our respect for the state’s exercise of its sovereign authority, however, the Constitution’s text requires us to enforce the specific enumerated powers that are bestowed on the federal government and denied to the states. The authority granted to Congress under the Elections Clause to “make or alter” state law regulating procedures for federal elections is one such power. The Framers of the Constitution were clear that the states’ authority to regulate extends only so far as Congress declines to intervene. U.S. Const. art. 1, § 4, cl. 1; e.g., Foster, 522 U.S. at 69. Given the paramount authority delegated to Congress by the Elections Clause, we conclude that the NVRA, which implemented a comprehensive national system for registering federal voters, supersedes Arizona’s conflicting voter registration requirement for federal elections. We uphold Arizona’s polling place identification requirement with respect to all other claims.

There is a lengthy analysis in this 83 page (.pdf) Opinion and Dissent.

5 responses to “9th Circuit Court of Appeals strikes down Arizona’s Prop. 200 proof of citizenship requirement for voter registration

  1. You are not the “decider” either. ..It’s not me disagreeing with SCOTUS, it’s the Founding Fathers and many other Constitutional lawyers today. The Founding Fathers ‘original intent’ should be the “deciders”, not today’s “case law” and just because the Supreme Court has interpreted something doesn’t mean they’re correct on it. Rulings like this show how far we’ve come from what the Founders intended.

    I have read part of the decision, not all of it. I don’t have to read all the decision to know it is incorrect. I have told you what the “original intent” of the Founders was….the SCOTUS interpretation is wrong and there is no doubt eventually the 9th Circuit’s decision this week will be struck down. As a matter of fact the precedent of the previous 9th Circuit decision was FOR the Arizona law and was disregarded this week by the three member Appeals Panel, which according to what I’ve read in the dissent opinion by Chief Judge Alex Kozinski breaks their own rules. So now it appears this case will go to the entire 24 members of the 9th Circuit and hopefully be overturned.

  2. The Constitution is interpreted by U.S. Supreme Court decisions that have the force and effect of law. The fact that you disagree based upon your own reading of the Constitution is irrelevant. You are not “the decider.”

    Read the decision, I gave you the link. Your refusal to read the decision to inform yourself speaks volumes.

  3. “tenther” nonsense? You only hurt your credibility by using such terms! I believe I can read the Constitution for myself thank you.

    Art. 1, Sec. 4, U.S. Constitution, re: the “time, place and manner” of elections. Note that Congress may by law alter such regulations as the States make. However, this clause has to do with the “time, place & manner” of elections – NOT “qualifications” of electors.

    Clearly only “citizens” may vote! See 15th, 19th, 24th, & 26th amendments!

    15th Amendment: “The right of CITIZENS of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude…”

    19th Amendment: “The right of CITIZENS of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

    24th Amendment: “The right of CITIZENS of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President,……”

    26th Amendment: “The right of CITIZENS of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.”

  4. You obviously did not read the opinion nor have any knowledge of constitutional law. The Elections Clause of the Constitution expressly retains the conduct of federal elections to the federal government and has its own distinct federal supremacy (federal preemption) doctrine from Supremacy Clause (federal preemption) doctrine. Read the decision and learn something before spouting this “tenther” nonsense.

  5. The 9th Circuit Court operates under the false assumption that all Federal Law supersedes State law. That is incorrect. Federal law only supersedes State law if the Federal law falls into the category of one of the “enumerated powers” granted to it in the Constitution by the States, otherwise the 10th Amendment applies.