Denial Leaves in Place Ninth Circuit Ruling Rejecting Arizona's Attempt to Suppress Voter Registration

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United States Supreme Court issued an order rejecting the State of Arizona's attempt to avoid a Ninth Circuit ruling that the state must accept the federal voter registration form in advance of the coming 2012 elections. The order denied an emergency stay requested by Arizona to block the Ninth Circuit’s decision, which compels Arizona to allow voters to register with the federal voter registration application provided by the National Voter Registration Act. MALDEF hails today’s order by the Supreme Court as a victory for all voters and a vindication of the rights of voters improperly rejected by Arizona’s unlawful state registration process.

"This decision is of tremendous importance to Arizona voters preparing for the upcoming November elections," stated Nina Perales, Vice President of Litigation for MALDEF, who successfully argued for use of the federal form before the en banc Ninth Circuit. "The use of the federal voter registration form in Arizona will help ensure that eligible voters are not unlawfully turned away and that their votes will count," continued Perales.

The Supreme Court vacated the stay in Arizona v. Abeytia (previously known as Gonzalez v. Arizona). In the original case, the Ninth Circuit’s ruling struck down critical provisions of an Arizona law that restricted voter access. The ruling affirmed that the National Voter Registration Act, a comprehensive law enacted by Congress to combat discriminatory and onerous state voter registration schemes, supersedes additional documentation requirements that Arizona has imposed on voter registrants. MALDEF had challenged the 2004 law, also known as Proposition 200, as unconstitutional and in violation of federal law, because it forced many new U.S. citizens to register to vote twice and forced all U.S. citizens to produce unnecessary paperwork in order to register to vote.

Following the Ninth’s Circuit's en banc decision, the State of Arizona filed an emergency request with the U.S. Supreme Court to stay the mandate from the Ninth Circuit. Justice Kennedy entered a stay temporarily and today's decision, by the full court, lifts the stay and allows the Ninth Circuit to issue its mandate and give effect to its decision. The state may still ask the Supreme Court to review the Ninth Circuit decision, but in the meantime, Arizona must accept the federal form before this fall's election.

MALDEF originally filed this case on behalf of individual voters and voter registration applicants as well as the following organizations: Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, Valle del Sol, Friendly House, Chicanos Por La Causa, the Arizona Hispanic Community Forum, ACORN, Project Vote, and Common Cause. Danny Ortega of Ortega Law Firm P.C., and Karl Sandstrom of Perkins Coie are co-counsel with MALDEF in the case.

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "law firm of the Latino community," MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit:

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