Willamette Law Online

United States Supreme Court Certiorari Granted


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Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: October 15, 2012
Case #: 12-71
Court Below: Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 677 F.3d 383 (2012) (en banc)
Full Text Opinion: http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2012/04/17/08-17094.pdf

Preemption: (1) Whether the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit erred when it applied a heightened preemption test under the Elections Clause instead of applying the more traditional preemption analysis under the Supremacy Clause; and (2) whether the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit erred in holding that the National Voter Registration Act preempted an Arizona law requiring proof of eligibility to register to vote.

The State of Arizona passed Proposition 200, which amended state election laws to require proof of citizenship when registering to vote and when voting. The trial court held Proposition 200 valid, but the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit applied a heightened preemption test and reversed in part. The circuit court held that states have no reserved authority over federal elections and that requiring proof of citizenship to register to vote directly conflicted with the National Voters Registration Act's (NVRA) requirement to “accept and use” federal forms when registering voters for federal elections. The circuit court affirmed the voter ID requirement at voting stations and the Supreme Court granted certiorari to determine whether the circuit court erred in holding that the NVRA preempts Proposition 200.

On appeal, Petitioner argues the circuit court erred in using a heightened preemption analysis that is incongruent with set precedents and federalism principles. Additionally, Petitioner argues that because the NVRA and Proposition 200 can be enforced without conflict, the NVRA does not preempt Arizona’s law.