It appears U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren entered his order after I posted this Update on status of Arizona’s proof-of-citizenship voter registration case yesterday.
The AP reports Judge refuses to halt order over voter citizenship:
Voters in Kansas and Arizona will have to provide proof of their U.S. citizenship when registering to vote using the federal form even as a U.S. agency appeals a federal judge’s order that helps those states enforce their voter registration requirements, the judge ruled Wednesday.
U.S. District Eric Melgren rejected the requests from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission and voting rights groups to put his earlier ruling on hold while the case goes to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Melgren ruled on March 19 that the commission must immediately modify a national voter registration form to add special instructions for Arizona and Kansas residents about those states’ proof-of-citizenship requirements.
The commission contends that the added documentation burdens result in an overall decrease in registration of eligible citizens, undermining the purpose of the National Voter Registration Act. The states argue the requirement protects the integrity of their elections by ensuring noncitizens aren’t voting.
Melgren ordered the commission to carry out “forthwith without further delay” his March 19 directive. The judge wrote that the commission and its supporters had not shown that the public interest is best served by suspending his ruling.
“Public interest is best expressed through laws enacted by the public’s elected representatives,” Melgren wrote in a nine-page ruling. “The people of Arizona and the representatives of Kansas have decided that the public interest of their residents is in preventing voter fraud and protecting public confidence in the integrity of their elections.”
Melgren also said that the voting rights groups have not proven anyone will be denied the right to vote as a result of the state laws. Thus the inability to register voters is “only theoretical,” the judge said.
[The AP points out that “Some 17,604 Kansans now have their voter registrations on hold as a result of the requirement.” So sorry Judge, but this is not “only theoretical.”
Judge Melgren is turning a blind eye to the evidence that 17,604 U.S. Citizens will be denied their right to vote in Kansas in violation of their privileges and immunities under the 14th Amendment. See the Harvard Law and Policy Review article by James Blacksher and Lani Guinier soon to be published regarding the federal Voting Rights Act. Here is the abstract. Free at Last: Rejecting Equal Sovereignty and Restoring the Constitutional Right to Vote: Shelby County v. Holder]
Bryan Whitener, a spokesman for the commission, said in an email that the agency was reviewing the ruling and exploring its options.
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The election commission had argued that it is likely to succeed on appeal because Melgren’s order conflicts with [a U.S. Supreme Court decision last year and does not give appropriate deference to the agency’s fact-findings when it rejected the state’s requests].
The first order of business is to request a stay order from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.
UPDATE: What did I tell ya? Appeals court stays Melgren’s ruling in Kansas voter ID dispute:
Kansas and Arizona residents can continue to register to vote for now using a federal form without having to provide proof of citizenship, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday.
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily stayed a ruling from U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren that orders the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to modify its federal voter registration form to add special instructions for Arizona and Kansas residents about those states’ proof-of-citizenship requirements.
Circuit Judges Carlos Lucero and Jerome Holmes granted the emergency stay sought Thursday by the commission and voting rights groups, a day after Melgren rejected a similar request to suspend his ruling during the appeal. Melgren had ordered the commission on Wednesday to carry out “without further delay” his March 19 directive.
The temporary halt is in effect until further order from the appeals court. The 10th Circuit judges gave Kansas and Arizona until Tuesday to respond to the commission’s request to suspend the ruling during the appeal.
In addition to the stay, the commission also asked the court Thursday to consider its appeal of the decision itself on an expedited basis, preferably in a special session this summer.