A federal court in Kansas just rendered a much-needed decision against the central government's interference with state efforts to combat voter fraud. Kansas and Arizona won total support for their laws to stop voter registration by illegal aliens and other noncitizens, and the court ordered a federal agency to revise its forms "immediately."
It's not every day federal bureaucrats are told to submit to state law. Big-government liberals have been in disbelief ever since the issuance of this ruling, which upheld the power of the states to require the federal Election Assistance Commission to include proof-of-citizenship requirements on voter registration forms pursuant to the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.
Kansas and Arizona had enacted laws requiring real proof of citizenship, such as birth certificates or passports, in order to register to vote. Until now, the federal voter registration form required only a signature to affirm citizenship, without showing any documents or real proof.
Illegal aliens break the law to enter this country, so it is obviously naive to pretend they would never lie in signing a form. Moreover, legal aliens who are here on green cards or temporary visas have not sworn their loyalty to the United States, nor have they surrendered the citizenship of their countries of origin.
The brilliant approach of requiring proof of citizenship on the registration form is the brainchild of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, and this new court decision obliges the Obama administration to comply with this common-sense regulation. This is a great step forward for states that are trying to protect their citizens against a federal government that refuses to enforce federal immigration law.
Kobach explains to the Associated Press, "This is a really big victory, not just for Kansas and Arizona but for all 50 states." Alabama immediately moved forward with its own law against illegal voter registration, and the other 47 states can now do likewise.
The phony canard of "voter suppression" is already being chanted by liberals, even though the only "suppression" is of illegal votes that never should be cast. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the requirement to show identification in order to vote, so showing a document to prove citizenship is plainly reasonable.
This dispute started in October 2012, when the Election Assistance Commission refused to cooperate with attempts by the states to crack down on illegal voting. Federal bureaucrats typically refuse to take orders from states unless commanded to do so by a court.
So Kobach sued, in Kobach v. U.S. Election Assistance Commission, to force the federal government to include proof of citizenship requirements on its forms registering voters in Kansas and Arizona. State law, after all, is what defines election eligibility, not federal law, apart from a few exceptions, such as forbidding discrimination and allowing 18-year-olds to vote.
Arizona previously tried to require proof of citizenship in voting registration, but the Supreme Court struck down Arizona's prior attempt. This time, however, Arizona and Kansas did what the Supreme Court invited them to do: add the document requirement on the printed federal voter registration form.
In ruling for the states, the federal court holds that "Congress has not preempted state laws requiring proof of citizenship through the National Voter Registration Act" and states have the power to require proof because the "Constitution gives each state exclusive authority to determine the qualifications of voters for state and federal elections."
This splendid new decision by federal Judge Eric F. Melgren explains, "Because the Constitution gives the states exclusive authority to set voter qualifications under the Qualifications Clause, and because no clear congressional enactment attempts to preempt this authority," it is OK for the states to decide that "a mere oath is not sufficient" for prospective voters to prove they're citizens.
The judge then ordered the federal EAC "to add the language requested by Arizona and Kansas to the state-specific instructions on the federal mail voter registration form, effective immediately." The words "effective immediately" are particularly gratifying because they order the Obama administration to comply right now, before the 2014 elections.
Congratulations to Kobach for his persistence in pursuing honest elections. That's the job of state secretaries of state.
Phyllis Schlafly is a lawyer, conservative political analyst and author of 20 books. She is the co-author, with George Neumayr, of the New York Times Best-Seller titled "No Higher Power: Obama's War on Religious Freedom." She can be contacted by e-mail at [email protected] To find out more about Phyllis Schlafly and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Website at www.creators.com.