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08-17094, has ruled that Arizona's Prop. 200 (2004) requiring documentary proof of citizenship to register to vote is superceded by the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), 42 U.S.C. § 1973gg et seq., and is invalid (under the Elections Clause of the U.S. Constitution – federal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.