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Voter Proof of Citizenship Law Won’t Be Revived by SCOTUS

Dec. 14, 2020, 2:51 PM

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review a stringent Kansas voter registration law that a lower court ruled unconstitutional, likely dooming similar provisions in Alabama, Arizona, and Georgia.

The state requirement that voters show “documentary proof of citizenship"—like a birth certificate or passport—violates the National Voter Registration Act as well as the Equal Protection Clause, the Denver-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit said.

While all states require that voters be U.S. citizens, the Kansas documentary requirement—known as the DPOC requirement—disproportionately disenfranchised voters instead of clearing up the voter rolls, the court found.

In nearly two decades, the state only proved that 67 noncitizens tried to register—and only 39 were successful. The law, however, prevented upwards of 31,000 voters from casting ballots.

Cases touching on immigration have dominated the high court’s docket under the Trump administration, including pending cases on the administration’s border wall, “remain in Mexico” policy, and its bid to exclude noncitizens from the 2020 census count.

Last term, the justices sided with Kansas in its effort to prosecute noncitizens despite the federal government’s central role in immigration matters.

Kansas has recently been unusually successful for a Supreme Court litigant, with a clean sweep of all three of the state’s cases argued there last term.

The court, however, declined Monday to revive the DPOC requirement here.

The case is Schwab v. Fish, U.S., No. 20-109.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kimberly Strawbridge Robinson in Washington at krobinson@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com; John Crawley at jcrawley@bloomberglaw.com

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