Tuesday, July 25, 2023

NEW: November Trial Date Set On Challenges To New AZ Voter Registration Laws Dealing With Citizenship

A November 6 trial date was set today in a group of cases challenging two Arizona voter registration laws dealing with citizenship issues and registration roll cancellations.

The decision by U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton came at the end of more than two hours of oral arguments on issues that Bolton could eliminate from the (estimated) 10-day trial in November. Counsel for Secretary of State Adrian Fontes (Craig Morgan) pressed the urgency of conducting a trial so that election officials can know whether they must implement the laws prior to the first 2024 elections in March (the Presidential Preference Election).

HB2492 requires proof of citizenship and proof of location of residence be provided along with the voter registration form. This received a lot of attention last year partly because there was confusion as to how - and, how many - longtime registered voters might be impacted by the new requirements. HB2243 deals with how voter registrations must be investigated and possibly canceled by County Recorders. The two laws were passed and signed by Republicans in 2022, and went into effect on January 1, 2023.

Several non-profits, sovereign Native American nations, and the U.S. filed actions against the bills, claiming that the citizenship verification requirements were discriminatory and arbitrary, and would illegally disenfranchise thousands of voters (among other arguments). The cases were consolidated, resulting in roughly a dozen different plaintiffs, and a few State of Arizona defendants and the Republican National Committee defending.

(In February, Judge Bolton refused to dismiss the cases outright prior to developing more facts. The parties have been engaging in discovery since then.)

Outside counsel for the state, Josh Whitaker (Osborn Maledon), defended the laws today against the claims that they violate the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the National Voter Registration Act (1994), along with Kory Langhofer for the RNC.

Judge Bolton questioned them about several provisions of the laws, and similarly grilled the parade of plaintiffs' attorneys. She took the motions for partial summary judgment under advisement.

The parties also brought an interesting discovery dispute to the judge's attention.  Democratic Party attorneys have requested discovery from state lawmakers about their motivations in passing HB2243 and HB2492, and the legislators are claiming that correspondence is privileged. The Democratic Party attorneys argue that that legislative privilege was waived once legislative leaders Warren Petersen and Ben Toma intervened in the case. Judge Bolton has given both sides until August 2 to file briefs presenting their arguments.

"AZ Law" includes articles, commentaries and updates about opinions from the Arizona Supreme Court, U.S. Supreme Court, as well as trial and appellate courts, etc. AZ Law is founded by Phoenix attorney Paul Weich, and joins Arizona's Politics on the internet. 

AZ Law airs on non-profit Sun Sounds of Arizona, a statewide reading service that provides audio access to printed material for people who cannot hold or read print material due to a disability. If you know someone who could benefit from this 24/7 service, please let them know about member-supported Sun Sounds. And, YOU can donate or listen here. 

Previous episodes of AZ Law can be streamed or downloaded here, or wherever you get your podcasts.

No comments:

Post a Comment

BREAKING: People Are Voting "Kari Lake" for Senate; Today, She Is Asking the AZ Supreme Court To Declare Her Governor

Thousands of people have already voted in the July 30 primary, and presumably, many have voted for Kari Lake to be the Republican nominee fo...