Latino and Asian American Groups Tells Supreme Court Arizona Voter Laws Harms Naturalized Citizens

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 23, 2013

Media Contact: LatinoJustice PRLDEF John Garcia, (212) 739-7513, jgarcia@latinojustice.org; AAJC Kimberly Goulart, (202) 499-7027, x103, comrequests@advancingequality.org

WASHINGTON—Leading a coalition of 28 Latino and Asian American organizations, LatinoJustice PRLDEF and members of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice (Advancing Justice) have filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in Arizona v. The Inter Tribal Council of Arizona. The brief argues that Proposition 200, Arizona’s law requiring documentary proof of U.S. citizenship for voter registrants, negatively impacts naturalized citizens and violates their voting rights.

“It is important to our democracy that there be no impediments to allowing citizens the right to participate in the democratic process,” said Juan Cartagena, president and general counsel of LatinoJustice PRLDEF. “That Arizona seeks to impede newly naturalized citizens from voting thwarts one of our country's most basic tenets.”

Arizona voters passed Proposition 200 in 2004. The Supreme Court will decide whether the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) pre-empts it. Pursuant to the NVRA, states must accept and use the federal voter-registration form, which asks applicants to certify their citizenship but does not require documentary proof. The Supreme Court’s review of the case follows a rehearing before the full panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which sided with the law’s challengers and held that Proposition 200 conflicts with the NVRA.

"Proposition 200 echoes other regulations in the state and across the country that target immigrants and seek to exclude them from full participation in American society," said Mee Moua, president and executive director of the Asian American Justice Center, a member of Advancing Justice. "We hope the Supreme Court will uphold the Ninth Circuit ruling to lessen the barriers to electoral engagement facing so many members of our communities."

More than one-third of Arizonans are Latino or Asian American. A majority of the state’s naturalized citizens of voting age are Latino or Asian American, at 50.8 percent and 18.7 percent, respectively. The brief addresses the unique burdens Proposition 200 imposes on naturalized citizens by requiring documents that are difficult or expensive to obtain or present as proof of citizenship and by relying on faulty verification mechanisms.

"Proposition 200 erects especially high hurdles to voter registration by naturalized citizens and thereby conflicts with the NVRA’s central purposes of increasing voter participation and creating a uniform and non-discriminatory mail-in voter registration system,” said Michael Dore, Supreme Court counsel of record from Lowenstein Sandler LLP, which represented the coalition on a pro bono basis.

Other organizations joining the amicus brief were: Asian American Institute, Asian Law Caucus, Asian Pacific American Legal Center—all members of Advancing Justice, National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund, Asian & Pacific Islander American Vote, Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area, Asian Law Alliance, Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, Asian Services In Action, Inc., Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations, Center for Asian Pacific American Women, Center for Pan Asian Community Services, Chinese for Affirmative Action, Chinese Progressive Association, Filipino Advocates for Justice, Hispanic Federation, Hispanic National Bar Association, Japanese American Citizens League, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, National Institute of Latino Policy, National Organization of Mexican American Rights, OneAmerica, South Asian Americans Leading Together, and South Asian Bar Association of Northern California.

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case on March 18.

You can download and read the Amicus brief here.


LatinoJustice PRLDEF, established in 1972, has won landmark civil rights cases in education, housing, voting, migrant, immigrant, employment and other civil rights. Through the efforts of LatinoJustice PRLDEF, Latino voters have been critical players in ensuring fair and bilingual election systems and fair redistricting opportunities for the nation’s largest minority.

The Asian American Justice Center (www.advancingequality.org), a member of Asian American Center for Advancing Justice, works closely with its affiliate organizations - the Asian American Institute in Chicago (www.aaichicago.org), the Asian Law Caucus (http://www.aaichicago.org) in San Francisco and the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (www.apalc.org) in Los Angeles - to promote a fair and equitable society for all by working for civil and human rights and empowering Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other underserved communities.

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