Archives

Uncategorized

In a 7-2 decision by Justice Antonin Scalia, the U.S. Supreme Court held today in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council that the National Voter Registration Act preempts an Arizona law that required local election officials to refuse to register any would-be voter who did not present satisfactory evidence of U.S. Citizenship.

In separate opinions, Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented.

The Constitution gives the states the authority to decide “the time, place and manner” of holding elections for federal officials, but also gives Congress back-up authority to “make or alter such regulations.” The Constitution also provides that when federal and state law clash, federal law will prevail.

The NVRA was passed in an effort to increase the number of eligible voters in federal elections, and to ensure that voter registration rolls are accurate and current.  It spells out three methods for registering voters for federal elections.  Voters may sign up to vote when they apply for a driver’s license, apply by mail using a federal form, or register – using the federal form – at sites designated under state law or by state voter registration officials.  States must create a combined driver’s license (or non-driver ID) and voter registration form, and the law requires federal officials to draw up a federal form — a nationally uniform voter registration application to be used in getting registered by mail or at a registration office. On the federal form, the would-be voter must declare that he or she meets voter eligibility requirements, including U.S. citizenship.

Under Arizona law, the requirement of proof of  citizenship was a separate mandate, not fulfilled by having the federal form.

 

 

 

 

Uncategorized

Here’s a quick look at what many consider to be the major cases still awaiting decision as the U.S. Supreme Court heads towards the close of its term in late June, with affirmative action, marriage equality and voting rights topping the list.

Though the Court typically releases opinions on Mondays, it could add additional days as the month winds down, as it did last year when it released the opinion in the Affordable Care Act case.

Other cases to be on the watch for:

Collection of DNA from criminal arrestees

In Maryland v. King, the court must weigh the needs of law enforcement against the privacy rights of those who have been arrested for a crime. States allow the collection of DNA for those convicted of a crime, but lower courts are split on whether states can collect DNA without a warrant from people who have only been arrested. The federal government and 28 states allow the collection of DNA from arrestees. Justice Samuel Alito called this “perhaps the most important criminal procedure case that the court has heard in decades.”

Arizona proof of citizenship 

At issue in Arizona v. The Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc. is a section of state law requiring proof of citizenship to register to vote in federal elections. Critics of the law argue that it puts an additional burden on voters and conflicts with a federal law, the National Voter Registration Act.

Patents on human genes

In Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., researchers, doctors and others are challenging patents held by a company on isolated DNA from the BRCA1 and BRCA 2 genes. Women with mutations in those genes are said to have a higher risk of breast and ovarian cancer. The challengers say that the patents prevent other companies from developing better genetic testing. But the company, Myriad Genetics, argues that their innovation has led to that testing and that they need the patents to protect billions of dollars for research.

Uncategorized

One of the more controversial bills of this year’s voter suppression package at the North Carolina General Assembly is Senate Bill 667 – a proposal that would purport to prevent parents from claiming their children as tax deductions if they register to vote in the communities where they attend college.

Now, it appears, we know where the lead sponsor, Senator Bill Cook, of got at least some of the inspiration for the bill — from local officials in one of the counties he represents (Pasquotank). As it turns out, suppressing the votes of college students there (at least the African-Amerian ones)  is  a popular sport for some conservative politicians.

Attorney Clare Barnett of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice has the story:

Black student voters challenged and removed from voter rolls

Fifty-six students at the historically black university, Elizabeth City State University, were removed from the voter registration rolls by the Pasquotank County Board of Elections after challenges by the local Republican Party Chair. During an 8 hour hearing, the Pasquotank GOP Chair, Richard Gilbert, challenged Read More

Uncategorized

The Columbia Journalism Review has posted an intersting story about North Carolina voting wars that includes praise for some local journalists. (FWIW, however, I’m not sure the folks at the N&O and Charlotte O will enjoy being called “McClatchy sisters.”)

NORTH CAROLINA — While North Carolina may not be “that important to the electoral math” of the presidential race, according to the New York Times’s Nate Silver, this state is seeing its share of battles in the so-called voting wars. Partisan fights over election rules and processes—who votes, when and how—are playing out here as in many other states. Last year, a voter ID bill was passed by the state’s legislature but vetoed by the current Democratic governor. Other proposals affecting voter access (which the state broadened after the Help America Vote Act of 2002) rose during that legislative session but failed to advance.

Read the entire article by clicking here.

Uncategorized

Today is National Voter Registration Day, with voter registration drives taking place across the country, from college campus to credit unions, grocery stores and art museums.

You can find a voter registration event today to register yourself or a friend (or update your voter record with your current address) by searching here by zipcode: http://events.nationalvoterregistrationday.org/events.

Voter registration forms are also available for download at the North Carolina State Board of Elections website.