Supreme Court Blocks Law Requiring Voters to Prove Citizenship

On June 17, 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled, 7 to 2, that states may not require additional proof of citizenship on federal forms designed to streamline voter-registration procedures.

The court rejected a requirement passed by Arizona voters in 2004 that potential voters provide proof of eligibility beyond an applicant’s oath on the federal form that he or she is a citizen.

The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) requires States to “accept and use” a uniform federal form to register voters for federal elections. That “Federal Form,” developed by the federal Election Assistance Commission (EAC), requires only that an applicant declare, under penalty of perjury, that he is a citizen. Arizona law, however, requires voter-registration officials to “reject” any application for registration, including a Federal Form, that is not accompanied by documentary evidence of citizenship. Respondents, a group of individual Arizona residents and a group of nonprofit organizations, sought to bar that Arizona law. Ultimately, the District Court granted Arizona summary judgment on respondents’ claim that the NVRA preempts Arizona’s requirement. The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part but reversed as relevant here, holding that the state law’s documentary-proof-of-citizenship requirement is preempted by the NVRA.

The Supreme Court held that Arizona’s evidence-of-citizenship requirement, as applied to Federal Form applicants, is defeated by the NVRA’s mandate that States “accept and use” the Federal Form.

The media have pointed out that the ruling comes a year after the Supreme Court justices struck down most of a separate Arizona law targeting undocumented immigrants, and weeks after a federal judge ruled that the sheriff in Phoenix was improperly using racial profiling against Latinos.

Attorneys at I.S. Law Firm have helped many immigrants to legalize or adjust their status in the United States, as well as obtain U.S. citizenship. Please contact us for a consultation today: +1-703-527-1779 or via e-mail: [email protected].