Supreme Court Strikes Down Arizona Voter ID Requirement

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
June 17 2013 10:21 AM

SCOTUS Strikes Down Arizona's ID Requirement for Voter Registration

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A police officer walks his dog in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building on June 17, 2013, in Washington D.C.

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The high court is taking its sweet time getting to the era-defining voting rights, affirmative action, and gay marriage cases. If this term were The Return of the King, today would have been the scene in which the hobbits jumped on a bed—a non-ending. But the court did strike down one of the laws passed during Arizona's conservative blitz, one that required ID from voters signing registration forms. This, according to the court, was superseded by the "motor voter" law. And so from the pen of Antonin Scalia, yet another one of those hard-right Jan Brewer-approved laws goes down. From the ruling:

States retain the flexibility to design and use their own registration forms, but the Federal Form provides a backstop: No matter what procedural hurdles a State’s own form imposes, the Federal Form guarantees that a simple means of registering to vote in federal elections will be available. Arizona’s reading would permit a State to demand of Federal Form applicants every additional piece of information the State requires on its state-specific form. If that is so, the Federal Form ceases to perform any meaningful function, and would be a feeble means of “increas[ing] the number of eligible citizens who register to vote in elections for Federal office.”

Hard to read anything from that and apply it to the VRA case. This decision doesn't veer anywhere near questions of discrimination or historical context. There's a law. The states tried to overwhelm it. States can't do that. End of decision, end of court drama 'til Thursday.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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