Congratulations to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit for its decision on Friday refusing to enjoin Arizona from enforcing Proposition 200, which Arizona voters adopted in 2004 to stem vote fraud.
Proposition 200 amended Arizona law to require persons wishing to register to vote for the first time in that state to present proof of citizenship, and to require all Arizona voters to present identification when they vote in person at the polls.
The law was challenged as improperly burdening the right to vote, and the plaintiffs went to federal court seeking a preliminary injunction against its enforcement even before a trial established the facts. The trial court turned them down, but on October 5, 2006 — a little more than a month before the election — a panel of Ninth Circuit judges reversed that ruling and ordered that an emergency injunction be entered, effectively opening the door on election day to the very potential for fraud that Arizona voters had sought to prevent.
Fortunately, the Supreme Court saw it differently (as it so often does in reviewing actions of the Ninth Circuit, which is both the most liberal and the most reversed federal appellate court in the country). The Supreme Court vacated the injunction, and the 2006 elections were conducted with the safeguards Arizona voters had chosen.
But the plaintiffs did not give up. They returned to the trial court, and again sought to enjoin enforcement of the registration identification requirement (they did not, however, resume the battle at that stage about the voter identification requirement).
The trial court once more ruled against them. On Friday, a unanimous panel of the Ninth Circuit agreed, holding that they had failed to so much as “raise serious questions going to the merits of their arguments.” So for the moment, at least, the voters of Arizona who chose to enact modest measures against vote fraud have an important victory.
Kudos to the Ninth Circuit. The case, which can be found on the Ninth Circuit’s website, is Gonzalez v. State of Arizona, No. 06-16521.