Arizona v. ITCA
The Lawyers' Committee and several other legal organizations represent a broad coalition of Arizonans - including the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc., the Hopi Tribe, the League of Women Voters of Arizona, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Arizona Advocacy Network, and State Senator Steve Gallardo - in ITCA v. Arizona, challenging the voting-related provisions of Arizona's Proposition 200, adopted in November 2004. Proposition 200 requires that citizens present certain specified proof of citizenship when registering to vote, and requires that voters present identification at the polls on Election Day in order to vote.
This litigation began in 2006, and has had a long and difficult history. Initially, in 2006, the district court denied our motion for preliminary relief and, after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that emergency relief was needed, the Supreme Court reversed, reinstating the district court's denial of relief. In 2007, the Ninth Circuit conducted a further review of the preliminary injunction issue, and ruled for Arizona. Pre-trial discovery then was taken, and trial on the merits occurred in 2008. On August 20, 2008, the district court issued an order denying all claims.
We appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals focusing on two issues. First, we argued that the proof of citizenship requirement is preempted by the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 ("NVRA") insofar as the Arizona sought to apply this requirement to persons registering vote using the national mail-in registration form issued by the federal government pursuant to the NVRA (the "Federal Form"). The NVRA requires that Arizona "accept and use" the Federal Form for voter registration. The Federal Form provides that applicants must certify their U.S. citizenship (under penalty of perjury) but does not require that applicants supply any additional proof of citizenship such as that prescribed by Proposition 200. By rejecting Federal Forms that do not comply with the State's supplemental citizenship procedure, Arizona was not complying with the NVRA's "accept and use" mandate.
Second, we argued that because both the documentary proof of citizenship provision and the polling place identification provision often require voters to expend funds to obtain the necessary documentation, they both constitute poll taxes prohibited by the Fourteenth and Twenty-Fourth Amendments.
On October 26, 2010, the Ninth Circuit of Appeals issued a 2-1 opinion holding that Arizona's proof of citizenship procedure violates the NVRA. The court denied the poll tax claim, however.
The Ninth Circuit then voted to decide the appeal en banc. On April 17, 2012, the en banc court, by a vote of 8-2, agreed with the earlier panel decision that, under the NVRA, Arizona's proof of citizenship procedure is preempted. The en banc court denied the poll tax claim. The case was returned to the district court for entry of appropriate relief and, on August 15, 2012, the district court issued a remedial order requiring that Arizona accept the Federal Form for voter registration without compliance with the State's supplemental citizenship procedure.
At the same time, however, Arizona requested that the Supreme Court review the Ninth Circuit's decision and, on October 15, 2012, the Supreme Court granted the State's request. On January 14, 2013, we filed our brief in the Supreme Court arguing again that the NVRA prohibits Arizona from applying its supplemental citizenship verification procedure to persons applying to register using the Federal Form. Oral argument occurred on March 18, 2013, and a decision is expected by the end of June 2013.
Supreme Court Documents
ITCA Respondents' Brief on the Merits, filed by the Lawyers' Committee
Gonzalez Respondents' Brief on the Merits, filed by MALDEF
Reply Brief for Petitioner, filed the State of Arizona
Amicus Briefs in Support of Petitioners:
- Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, Michigan, Oklahoma, and Texas
- American Civil Rights Union
- American Unity Legal Defense Fund
- Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence
- Eagle Forum Education & Legal Defense Fund, Inc.
- Kris W. Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State
- Landmark Legal Foundation
- Members of Congress
- Mountain States Legal Foundation
- Russell Pearce, Arizona State Senator
Amicus Briefs in Support of Respondents
- Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund
- Community Voter Registration Organizations
- Constitutional Law Professors
- Election Administrators
- LatinoJustice PRLDEF, National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund, Asian American Justice Center, Asian Law Caucus, and Asian Pacific American Legal Center, et al.
- League of Women Voters
- Members of Congress
- NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and the Anti-Defamation League
- National Education Association, et al.
- Overseas Vote Foundation, Federation of American Women's Clubs Overseas, American Citizens Abroad, Military Spouses of Michigan, and Arizona Students' Association
- United States
District Court Documents