U.S. Supreme Court lets stand 10th Circuit decision barring requirement of extra ID for voter registration

June 30, 2015

Yesterday the United States Supreme Court rejected a challenge brought by Arizona and Kansas officials to federal procedures for establishing proof of United States citizenship when registering to vote. The Supreme Court’s order denied certiorari in Kobach v. U.S. Election Assistance Commission, No. 14-1164, reaffirming the power of Congress to regulate voter registration for federal elections under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (“NVRA”). Following the denial of certiorari, voters in Arizona and Kansas will not have to show additional “documentary” proof of citizenship in order to register to vote in federal elections. Osborn Maledon worked with other law firms, including the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law, in representing the Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc., the Arizona Advocacy Network, the League of United Latin American Citizens Arizona, and Maricopa County Commissioner Steve Gallardo as defendant-intervenors in the Kobach lawsuit, who oppose the effort by Arizona and Kansas to add documentary “proof of citizenship” requirements to the National Mail Voter Registration Form (“Federal Form”). 

Osborn Maledon, with a similar coalition of law firms, represented the same parties in an earlier lawsuit against Arizona, Arizona v. Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc., 133 S. Ct. 2247 (2013), in which the Supreme Court held that Arizona is required to “accept and use” the Federal Form regardless of whether the application satisfies the more burdensome proof of citizenship requirement those states have enacted. After the ITCA decision, Arizona and Kansas unsuccessfully petitioned the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to conform the Federal Form to their state requirements and then filed the Kobach lawsuit asking a federal court to order the EAC to modify the Federal Form to include their state requirements. Although a federal district court judge initially ruled in favor of the states, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals granted an immediate stay of the district court’s decision, and on November 7, 2014, the Tenth Circuit reversed the district court. Yesterday’s Supreme Court order declined to review that Tenth Circuit decision.

Osborn Maledon attorneys Thom HudsonDavid Rosenbaum, and Anna Finn worked on the Kobach team.