While the Obama Justice Department continues to pretend that voter ID is racially discriminatory and a violation of voting rights, courts keep on ruling against them. Today, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals – an incredibly liberal appeals court – ruled that Arizona’s voter ID law was largely constitutional. Opponents of the law had argued that the fee to obtain an ID amounted to an impermissible “poll tax”; the Court thought otherwise.
The Court did rule, however, that Arizona cannot turn down federal voter registration forms, which simply ask applicants to check a box indicating that they are US citizens. That’s not because such provisions would be unconstitutional – it’s because those provisions violate the federal National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (the so-called Motor Voter Act). Due to the supremacy clause of the Constitution, in areas where the federal government legislates, states cannot. It is supposedly unconstitutional for Arizona to come up with another form that requires proof of citizenship.
Some liberal groups celebrated the decision as a quasi-victory. “We are elated that a strong majority of the en banc panel found Arizona’s citizenship requirement violated the NVRA,” crowd Jon Greenbaum, chief council for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “This will enable our clients to be able to register to vote and conduct voter registration drives more easily.”
The case will likely move on to the Supreme Court. But the takeaway message for federal Republicans is that the NVRA must be modified to allow for states to ask for voter ID.