Arizona will ask the nation’s highest court to require voters to produce identification for next month’s general election.
This week, state Attorney General Terry Goddard said, legal papers will be given to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, asking him to void an order by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals barring the state from enforcing the voter ID provisions of Proposition 200 while a legal challenge works its way through federal courts.
The full appellate court refused Tuesday to overturn a decision by two of its judges blocking the identification rules. The attorney general said that leaves the Supreme Court as the only opportunity for relief.
Nina Perales, attorney for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, was surprised that Goddard chose to pursue an appeal.
Perales convinced the appellate court that allowing the state to require voters to provide identification would be a hardship on many Arizonans.
But Goddard said he will argue to Kennedy that changing the identification rules now, just weeks before the election, would create a real hardship on the state and won’t cause significant disruption at the polls.
Goddard said the rules “did not cause significant disruption’’ during last month’s primary.
Kennedy is only one of the nine justices of the Supreme Court. But as the “duty justice’’ for cases arising out of the 9th Circuit he has the legal authority, by himself, to dissolve that court’s order.
Prop. 200, approved by voters in 2004, requires people to prove they are U.S. citizens before they can register.
The appellate judges, while not ruling on the merits of Perales’ argument, decided last week to have the Nov. 7 general election conducted under the pre-200 rules.
Goddard said that’s not fair, as election workers would have to be retrained.
But Perales noted that elections were conducted for years without asking for ID so it shouldn’t be too hard.