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Ruling finds ‘reasoned approach’ to Arizona voter registration


Published June 20, 2013

Rick Su

Rick Su, associate professor in the UB Law School who specializes in immigration law, says Monday’s Supreme Court ruling “protects the integrity of federal election laws” with a “reasoned approach” to the dilemma of voter registration.

“The Supreme Court's 7-2 opinion in Arizona vs. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona Inc. offers a reasoned approach that protects the integrity of federal election laws and the process that Congress established for states that want to deviate or add additional qualifications,” says Su, who has written and published extensively on immigration law and immigrant voters.

“Just as important, however, is what this case says about the ongoing immigration debates. Arizona vs. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona Inc. is but the latest of a growing line of immigration-related cases to come out of the state of Arizona in just the last three years. While the Supreme Court has treated these cases as distinct, the context from which they have arisen, along with the manner in which the court has resolved them, shows the dangers of fixating on immigration enforcement above all else.”

Su says Arizona was willing to restrict the rights of qualified voters from having reasonable access to the polls in their effort to be “tough on immigration.” But the Supreme Court correctly set a limit on this.

“The Supreme Court was right to hold that states are not allowed to impose such a restriction on their own as a matter of law,” he says. “But even more important is recognizing that the law itself was bad policy. We should not be so eager to trade away the rights of American citizens for a little bit more enforcement on the immigration front. After the recent spate of legal controversies, it seems that Arizona is starting to learn that lesson now. As the negotiations over comprehensive immigration reform continues, let's hope that Congress got the message as well.”