People For the American Way Foundation

Supreme Court declines to issue stay in Arizona voter ID case

Back in 2004, Arizona voters passed Proposition 200, which required people in the state to produce proof of citizenship in order to vote and use public services. Two years later, PFAW Foundation joined voting rights supporters in filing suit against its voting-related provisions. In 2010, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit struck down the law’s requirement that voters provide proof of citizenship, but upheld its voter ID provisions. In April of this year, the full Ninth Circuit ruled the same.

Last week, the US Supreme Court refused to continue a stay of the Ninth Circuit’s decision, which had previously been granted by Justice Kennedy at the request of Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne. Horne had sought to keep the citizenship provisions in place pending appeal.

Following the SCOTUS decision, Horne now contends that “Right now almost everybody uses the state form. We can’t ask for identification on the federal form, but we can on the state form.” But Jon Greenbaum, Chief Counsel and Senior Deputy Director with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, says that the Ninth Circuit’s ruling means that the proof of citizenship requirement should no longer be applied, regardless of which registration form is used. He noted, “In a presidential election year it’s particularly significant.”

Even if the Supreme Court eventually agrees to hear Arizona’s appeal, any decision on the merits of the case would come down after Election Day. So the Ninth Circuit’s opinion goes into effect, and proof of citizenship will not be required in Arizona for the November election.

Also known as the Taxpayer Citizen Protection Act, Proposition 200 remains the ALEC model for voter ID and proof of citizenship nationwide. Compared side-by-side, you can see that the two measures are virtually identical.

For more information on ALEC in Arizona, check out the November 2011 report and the April 2012 update, co-authored by PFAW Foundation, Common Cause, Center for Media and Democracy, and Progress Now.

For more information on voting rights, check out The Right to Vote under Attack: The Campaign to Keep Millions of Americans from the Ballot Box, a Right Wing Watch: In Focus report by PFAW Foundation.


ALEC, American Legislative Exchange Council, Anthony Kennedy, Center for Media and Democracy, citizenship, CMD, Common Cause, Jon Greenbaum, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, LCCRUL, National Voter Registration Act, NVRA, Policy Corner, Progress Now, proof of citizenship, Proposition 200, public policy, Roslyn Moore-Silver, SCOTUS, Supreme Court, Taxpayer Citizen Protection Act, Tom Horne, voter ID, Voter Registration, voter suppression, voting rights