Monday, June 17, 2013

Voting Rights Victory in Arizona and for All

As the 10 am hour came and went this morning, upwards of 30,000 people followed to find out what opinions the Court had rendered. As we speed towards the end of June, truly important cases and issues lie in the balance and that includes Shelby v Holder.

But alas, and nearly amazingly, after 4 opinions were read this morning, the final one was Arizona v ITCA! And as Justice Scalia stated that federal law preempts Arizona's proof of citizenship requirement,  we who support access for all Americans to the vote had a victory in the first of the two voting rights cases the Justices are considering this term.

The funny thing is, in Arizona, this is a BIG deal, and has been the hot issue there for months. Perception among people outside of Arizona though, not so much. A reaction along the lines of, it's not a big deal. That kind of pisses me off. It is a big deal to all the people is has easily enabled to register to vote, and to people like me who were there advocating for its passage as Bill Clinton became our President.

In 1993, the National Voting Rights Act (NVRA) was passed in Congress. NVRA is more commonly known as "Motor Voter" and its intent was to make it easier for people to register to vote. That's always a good thing, you know, helping people access democracy and their civil rights and such. And what a great idea to be able to register to vote when you get a drivers license. I will in fact be doing that tomorrow, when I surrender my Rhode Island license and get my DC license (and lose my voting rights and be taxed without representation, but that's another post altogether!) Fill out a form, check the box that asks if you would like to register to vote and WHAM! You are a voting member of our democracy! It was cool when I was 23 working on it, it's still a great addition to the voting process 20 years later.

Ah, but Arizona. Arizona wanted to impose its own regulations to the NVRA, and today SCOTUS said they could not. Phew. This gives the responsibility of the U.S. Congress to control the voter registration laws of our country, and states must yield to those laws.

I could go on and analyze this for you, but of course it was done hours ago by many. I direct you to Lyle Denniston, who has been writing on the Supreme Court for 55 years here. Yes, 55 years. He knows his stuff, I am a fan. 

So it was a good Monday in DC. Next opportunity to get the Shelby v Holder opinion will be Thursday morning at 10 am. Stay tuned...

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