Supreme Court Strikes Down Proof of Citizenship Voter Requirements
On Monday, the United States Supreme Court struck down an Arizona law requiring voters to provide proof of citizenship before being allowed register to vote.
In an opinion written [PDF] by Justice Antonin Scalia, the Court ruled that the Arizona statute violated the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA, also known as the "Motor Voter Law") of 1993, which created a federal form that individuals can mail in to register to vote in federal elections. No proof of citizenship is required to complete the form, however each applicant must sign that he or she is a citizen of the United States under penalty of perjury. Scalia wrote, "We conclude that the fairest reading of the statute is that a state-imposed requirement of evidence of citizenship not required by the Federal Form is 'inconsistent with' the NVRA's mandate that States 'accept and use' the Federal Form." He continued, "The states' role in regulating congressional elections - while weighty and worthy of respect - has always existed subject to the express qualification that it terminates according to federal law."
Justice Kennedy concurred with six other justices, but submitted his own opinion. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented from the majority ruling, arguing that states had the final right to determine voter eligibility, even in federal elections, and can request supplemental information to confirm a person's eligibility respectively.
The ruling calls into question similar laws in four other states - Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, and Tennessee. Although the ruling prohibits requiring proof of citizenship to register for federal elections, the Court determined that a state may still require proof of citizenship for eligibility to vote in state/local elections.
Media Resources: Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of AZ Inc. 6/17/2013; USA Today 6/17/2013
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .