EN BANC NINTH CIRCUIT HEARS ARIZONA VOTING CASE
June 21, 2011 - For Immediate Release
DENVER, CO. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, sitting en banc, today held oral arguments on whether to reverse an October 2010 decision by one of its three-judge panels that struck down an Arizona voter-approved ballot initiative requiring proof of citizenship to vote. Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF), which has decades of experience litigating constitutional issues, had urged the Ninth Circuit to rehear the case and, after an en banc panel was ordered in April 2011, urged that the panel hold that Arizona’s law is constitutional because Arizona has a duty to protect the ballot box from voter fraud. The 2-1 ruling by a three-judge panel, which included former Justice O’Connor, reversed the ruling of an Arizona district court, which after a year and a half of discovery, a six-day bench trial, and post-trial briefing, found the law constitutional in August 2008.
“The argument today by the Obama Administration was unconvincing,” declared MSLF president William Perry Pendley who attended the arguments. “The Supreme Court has held that States have a compelling interest in protecting the integrity of elections; moreover, not only did the federal law leave room for State action here, but the Supreme Court ruled on May 26, in a case involving Arizona, that there is no preemption by implication.”
In November 2004, by a margin of 56 percent to 44 percent, Arizona voters approved Proposition 200 to address the burden imposed on Arizona citizens by the payment of public benefits to illegal aliens. These benefits are believed, by some, to exceed $1 billion a year, or $700 for each Arizona household. Proposition 200 strengthens enforcement of existing laws related to illegal immigration by requiring all who register to vote or apply for “state” public benefits—excluding emergency medical assistance, non-cash emergency disaster relief, and public health assistance for immunizations and testing/treatment of communicable diseases—to prove citizenship.
Proposition 200 creates a verification process to enforce current laws that prohibit state and local governments from providing non-essential public benefits to illegal aliens. This process has been used since 1996 to verify eligibility for federal benefits, but Arizona became the first State to require presentation of a designated identity document at the voting polls.
In November 2004, the ACLU and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) contested Proposition 200’s constitutionality in a lawsuit that was dismissed by the Ninth Circuit in August 2005. In May 2006, MALDEF and others challenged Proposition 200’s registration and identification provisions. In October 2006, the Ninth Circuit enjoined those provisions; however, the U.S. Supreme Court subsequently reversed.
Mountain States Legal Foundation, founded in 1977, is a nonprofit, public-interest legal foundation dedicated to individual liberty, the right to own and use property, limited and ethical government, and the free enterprise system. Its offices are in suburban Denver, Colorado.
Gonzalez v. State of Arizona, No. 08-17094 (9th Cir.)
Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF) is a nonprofit,
public interest legal foundation dedicated to individual liberty, the right
to own and use property, limited and ethical government, and economic freedom. It is an Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(3) entity
incorporated in the State of Colorado. Csontributions
to Mountain States Legal Foundation are tax deductible.
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