Last Monday’s opinions from the Supreme Court did not make much headlines because no case was decided that includes the names Fisher, Windsor or Perry, the affirmative-action or same-sex-marriage cases. But the case on Arizona’s voter law made enough sensationalistic headlines to deserve a little bit of rational thinking on this blog.
CNN and its ilk assailed that the Supreme Court struck for striking down Arizona’s law, which required people registering to vote to provide proof of citizenship. That may be technically correct, but technically only. And the casual observer would be forgiven a moment of confusion. Since being a citizen is required by law in order to vote, why prohibit a state from requiring actual documentation?
The Supreme Court simply held that Arizona went about it the wrong way. All states must use the same federal form, so that there is uniformity for federal elections – the only elections at issue in the case. The federal form currently only asks the registrant to swear he or she is a citizen and provides penalties for perjury. Arizona was thus simply sent back to the drawing board, to ask that a requirement of providing documentation be added to the form. The Justices went as far as saying that the state, if the request was denied, would then have recourse in Court to push its policy through.
It if does not bleed, it does not lead, but the case does not bleed nearly as profusely as media types would have it.