Press Releases

Conyers Applauds Supreme Court NVRA Decision Reaffirming Congressional Authority to Regulate Elections

Washington, DC, June 17, 2013

Today, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) released this statement applauding the Supreme Court ruling in Arizona et al. v. Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona that invalidated Arizona’s law requiring applicants to submit documentary proof of citizenship beyond what is required by the common registration “Federal Form” established by the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. Writing for the 7-2 majority, Justice Scalia reiterated that the Elections Clause of the U.S. Constitution (Article I, Section 4, Clause I) confers on Congress the power to alter state regulations governing the “times, place, and manner” of electing representatives and senators or to supplant those state regulations altogether, and that Arizona’s evidence-of-citizenship requirement, as applied to Fed­eral Form applicants, is thus pre-empted by the NVRA’s mandate that states “accept and use” the federal form created by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

“I am very pleased that the Supreme Court reaffirmed congressional authority to regulate how federal elections are held via the Elections Clause of the U.S. Constitution.  The case of Arizona et al. v. Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona was about protecting the right of U.S. citizens to register to vote and about Congress’ constitutional obligation to ensure that voting rights are not unduly burdened by state regulations.  Tens of thousands of voters were inappropriately required to submit documentary proof of citizenship in addition to the attestation, under penalty of perjury, that Congress required on the federal form as a way to balance concerns about election fraud with concerns about voting rights. As the Court acknowledged, ‘When Congress legislates with respect to the ‘Times, Places and Manner’ of holding congressional elections, it necessarily displaces some element of a pre-existing legal regime erected by the states.’  Congress passed NVRA in 1993, after many years of fact-finding and discussions examining the registration practices and policies across the nation.  This year marks the 20th Anniversary of the NVRA, and the Supreme Court decision in Arizona v. ITCA reconfirms the good work my colleagues and I did in Congress to create a uniform national standard whereby applicants could register to vote in federal elections using a federal form that states were required to accept and use.”