Mon June 17, 2013
High Court Strikes Ariz. Voting Law Requiring Proof Of Citizenship
The Supreme Court is looking to make the final stretch of the 2012 term a dramatic one: While the justices knocked out five opinions today, none of them were the major ones we've been looking forward to. As we've told you before, we're waiting for:
— Fisher v. University of Texas, a key test of affirmative action in higher education.
— Shelby County v. Holder, in which the issue is whether times have changed and the 1965 Voting Rights Act should no longer apply to that Alabama county.
The Supreme Court is scheduled to release more opinions at 10 a.m. ET. Thursday. Normally, they set out for their summer recess at the end of June.
Still, this morning's session brought some interesting cases about voting rights, criminal law and the pharmaceutical industry. Here's a roundup:
-- In Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Ariz., Inc., the court decided that states cannot require voters to show proof of citizenship. States, the court ruled, are required by the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 to use a "uniform federal form to register voters for federal elections."
In that form, the Election Assistance Commission decided that an applicant certify he is a citizen "under penalty of perjury."
It was a 7-2 decision striking down a 2004 law that, according to SCOTUSblog, "requires election officials in that state to refuse to register any would-be voter who cannot prove that he is in fact a citizen." Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the majority opinion. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented.
The Associated Press notes:
"The case focuses on Arizona, which has tangled frequently with the federal government over immigration issues involving the Mexican border. But it has broader implications because four other states — Alabama, Georgia, Kansas and Tennessee — have similar requirements, and 12 other states are contemplating such legislation."
-- In Alleyne v. United States, the court decided that a jury and not a judge should have final say on whether facts in a case demand a mandatory minimum sentence.
The majority opinion is notable because it sheds the traditional court balance. Writing the majority opinion, Justice Thomas joined the court's liberal wing.
The AP says of the case:
"The high court on Monday overturned the sentencing in Allen Alleyne's case in a 5-4 judgment. He was convicted of robbery and firearm possession in Richmond, Va. The jury said Alleyne's accomplice did not brandish a weapon, but the judge said he did, raising Alleyne's minimum sentence from five to seven years on that charge.
"Alleyne's lawyers say the brandishing decision should have been the jury's. Instead, the judge made his determination using a lower standard of proof. The Justice Department argued that the current system has been used successfully for years."
-- In FTC v. Actavis, Inc., the court decided that "the Federal Trade Commission can challenge deals that brand-name drug companies make with generic rivals to keep cheaper products off the market," Reuters reports.