- Outrage as Air Force base in South Carolina boots Nativity scene
- Israel poised for a $173M boost from the U.S. for missile defense
- Leon Panetta named as source of ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ scriptwriter’s information
- Mandela service sign language interpreter: ‘He made up his own signs’
- Pope Francis named Time’s ‘Person of the Year’
- Ben Affleck: Fundraising for Democrats started to ‘feel gross’
- Vladimir Putin orders military to boost presence in Arctic
- Brooklyn, N.Y.: ‘Lesbian capital’ of the Northeast
- Elian Gonzalez: It’s America’s fault that my mother died
- India top court rules homosexuality is illegal
Supreme Court: Federal law trumps Arizona in voter registration battle
The Supreme Court ruled Monday that the federal government can pre-empt a state and require that it use a national voter registration form, in a decision that punctured part of Arizona’s far-reaching voter-check laws.
In their 7-2 ruling, the justices struck a blow for federal supremacy over the states. The majority held that though the Constitution gives states the power to decide who qualifies to vote, the Founding Fathers wanted Congress to control the “times, places and manner” of federal elections — which in this case includes how states register voters.
The complex ruling still allows officials to demand proof of citizenship when voters apply using Arizona’s own state form, and said states can reject applicants who they believe don’t qualify. But those who use the federal form cannot be rejected just because they refuse to submit proof of citizenship.
“States retain the flexibility to design and use their own registration forms, but the federal form provides a backstop: No matter what procedural hurdles a state’s own form imposes, the federal form guarantees that a simple means of registering to vote in federal elections will be available,” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the court’s majority.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., the court’s four liberal-leaning justices, and swing-vote Justice Anthony M. Kennedy all backed Justice Scalia’s findings, while Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Anthony Alito Jr. dissented.
Justice Alito said that allowing two competing ways to register is a “nonsensical result.”
“What is a state to do if it has reason to doubt an applicant’s eligibility but cannot be sure that the applicant is ineligible?” he wrote.
The ruling is likely to be limited in its effects, but it already has ignited a political firestorm.
Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, said he has written an amendment that he will try to attach to the immigration bill on the Senate floor that would let states check voters’ citizenship. Sen. David Vitter, Louisiana Republican, introduced an amendment Monday that would make it an aggravated felony for an illegal immigrant to vote.
But voting rights groups cheered the ruling, saying more than 30,000 would-be voters had applied using the federal form and had their applications rejected over the past two years.
“Voters scored a huge victory today,” said Wendy Weiser, an official with the Brennan Center for Justice. “We applaud the Supreme Court for confirming Congress‘ power to protect the right to vote in federal elections.”
Still, the groups were not sure what to do about Arizona’s state form, which the court ruled is also legal.
The constitutional question facing justices was whether Congress‘ power to control the manner of elections meant it can impose terms on states in the technical areas of voter registration.
Justice Scalia’s ruling confirmed that.
A top congressional Republican said the ruling should be a warning to Congress to be careful about abusing that pre-emptive power.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Stephen Dinan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Federal deficit shrinks 20 percent in fiscal 2014
- Wind farms: Interior Department sacrifices eagle protection for alternative energy
- Activists urge Obama to go rogue, sidestep Congress
- Bipartisan House votes against 'patent trolls' who file lawsuits against innovators
- Bipartisan House votes to stop patent 'trolls'
Latest Blog Entries
By Donald Lambro
Growth spikes are little more than trend-free anomalies
- Teen thugs in DC run wild -- even while wearing GPS ankle bracelets
- New budget accord saves $23 billion -- after $65 billion spending spree
- More than a quarter million sign up for Obamacare in November
- VEGAS RULES: Harry Reid pushed feds to change ruling for casino's big-money foreigners
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- CARSON: Why did the founders give us the Second Amendment?
- FITTON: A closer look at the Benghazi lie
- Obama's antics at Nelson Mandela tribute: Jovial conversation, handshake with Raul Castro
- Gov't Motors: Obama fudges math on auto bailout, $10.5 billion loss for taxpayers
- Somber duty: U.S. presidents in hot demand at Mandela's memorial
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Television commentary, reviews, news and nonstop DVR catch-up by Lisa King Dolloff and friends.
Helping the YOUniverse conspire on your behalf.
A column dedicated to discussing politics, national security, civil liberties, and education.
Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow