On The SCOTUS Ruling Re: Voter Registration

There’s been a lot of discussion on the internets regarding today’s Supreme Court ruling in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona. Much of my friends on the Left celebrate the ruling and slam Republicans who hold the silly notion that only citizens should vote.

Consider this from Senator Vincent Fort:

I applaud the justices who interpreted the law for what it really was: an attempt to shut out certain groups from the democratic process.

I’d urge everyone to read an analysis of the ruling by Lyle Denniston at SCOTUS blog:

On the particular point at issue in this case — Arizona’s requirement of proof of citizenship before one may register to vote or actually vote — the Scalia opinion said that a state was free to ask the federal government for permission to add that requirement. And, Scalia said, if that doesn’t work — either because the federal agency that would deal with such a request is either not functioning or says no — then a state would be free to go to court and make an argument that it has a constitutional right to insist on proof of citizenship as an absolute qualification for voting, in all elections.

The opinion seemed to leave little doubt that, if Arizona or another state went to court to try to establish such a constitutional power, it might well get a very sympathetic hearing, because that part of the Scalia opinion laid a very heavy stress on the power of states under the Constitution to decide who gets to vote. Indeed, that part of the opinion said that the Constitution simply does not give Congress the power to decide who can qualify, but only how federal elections are run procedurally.​

I hope the State of Georgia seeks approval from the Feds to add a proof of citizenship requirement to the voter registration form and if necessary, go to Court to force it.

Discuss.

3 comments

  1. George Chidi says:

    I have no intrinsic philosophical objection to the state seeking proof of citizenship before one can register to vote. My problem, broadly, is that the bureaucracy around drivers’ licenses and birth certificates is pretty extreme these days.

    My mother, a little old Adam Sandler-sounding white lady born in Massachusetts, had to spend $200 of her own money and months of her time to get a license here when she moved from Kentucky. Married and divorced, with inconclusive paperwork from a third state on the reversion to her maiden name. This is not particularly uncommon these days. I had similar issues because of how my name read on my birth certificate and what was on prior licenses.

    For most people, the burdens will be trivial. The people who this will impact most are younger women getting married, older divorced women, people who tend to move around a lot (read: poor folks), people who don’t have a drivers’ license, legal immigrants and their children.

    Which is to say, traditional Democratic constituencies.

    The proof is in the pudding. If the DMV and county clerks had a reputation for being anything other than bureaucratic when it came to helping people manage this stuff, I probably wouldn’t care. Show me that the biases in place — in policy and in custom — are toward helping every eligible voter register, and I wouldn’t object. But my experience has been quite the opposite here.

    • George Chidi says:

      The money she spent, by the way, was to legally change her name, not so that it matched her Kentucky license … but so that she could show a legal chain from the name on her Kentucky license to the one on her birth certificate. She was told that was the only way to get a license here.

    • Ken says:

      In rural areas there are still older people who were born at home and have no “official” record of their birth. They have a similar problem in getting a DL.

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