On Monday, the Supreme Court struck down an Arizona law that imposed burdensome citizenship certifications on all new voter registrations.
In a 7-2 decision, Justice Antonin Scalia, speaking for the majority, said that a 1993 federal law known as the Motor Voter Act takes legal precedence over the Arizona law because of its requirement that states “accept and use” the federal voter registration form.
The Supreme Court deserves praise for striking down this shameless attempt by Republicans to deter naturalized citizens from voting by forcing them to register in person, something that native born Americans wouldn’t be required to do.
Because it is illegal to make a copy of the naturalization document, naturalized citizens would be unable to simply mail-in their proof of citizenship like other voters.
Elected officials in the state of Arizona predictably claimed that the law was simply an administrative decision designed to prevent voter fraud, conveniently ignoring the fact that it unfairly targets naturalized citizens, which are increasingly more likely to vote Democratic.
Three other states — Alabama, Georgia and Kansas — have laws almost identical to Arizona’s and joined it in urging the court to uphold the additional requirement for proof of citizenship.
At an oral argument in March, Thomas Horne, a lawyer for Arizona, told the justices that the state was within its rights to ask for additional information beyond the simple federal form.
“It’s extremely inadequate,” Horne said. “It’s essentially an honor system. It does not do the job.”
“Well,” answered Justice Sonia Sotomayor, “that’s what the federal system decided was enough.”
Justice Scalia disagreed, going as far as to ignore hundreds of years of legislative precedent by claiming that statements made under oath are nothing but empty words.
“Under oath is not proof at all,” he said. “It’s just a statement.”
Patricia Millett, a lawyer for groups opposed to the law, countered:
“Statements under oath in a criminal case are proof beyond a reasonable doubt” in criminal cases that result in execution.
“It’s a very serious oath,” she said.
This is positive news, not just for naturalized Arizonans, but also for progressives and the Democratic Party. Several other red states were lining up to follow Arizona’s lead and impose these bigoted registration requirements on naturalized citizens in order to increase the Republican Party’s political prospects, but now they can’t.
As America’s demographics change, it spells doom for the white-centric Republican Party and they will undoubtedly be looking to pander to Hispanics while simultaneously attacking their right to vote with unprecedented and unnecessary requirements.
Unfortunately, it is safe to assume that after this latest setback, the Republican Party will simply move on to the next voter suppression tactic. We must remain vigilant so please do your part by sharing this and other related articles on social media forums.