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15th Amendment

15th Amendment - The federal judiciary has had a chip on its shoulder ever since Alexander Hamilton described it as the “weakest of the three departments of power.” From Marbury v. Madison and McCulloch v. Maryland through to its present day progeny, federal judges consistently misinterpret the Constitution and misinterpret the powers assigned to them therein. In fact, for decades the district courts, courts of appeal, and the Supreme Court have gone out of their way to show that they can obliterate the Constitution just as powerfully as their sister branches.

One of the latest examples of the federal courts’ disregard for the black letter of Constitutional law is found in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in the case of Gonzalez v. Arizona (2010). Handed down in October of this year, the reasoning set forth in the majority opinion written by Judge Sandra S. Ikuta is remarkably unsound, especially so in light of the concurrence of former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (Justice O’Connor heard this case pursuant to the prerogative exercised pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §294(a)).

Proposition 200 was passed in November 2004 when 56% of citizens of the State of Arizona voted in favor of it. The initiative was drafted by the Protect Arizona Now (PAN) Coalition with the support of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and basically it requires individuals to produce proof of citizenship before they may register to vote or apply for public benefits in Arizona. The proposition also makes it a misdemeanor for public officials to fail to report persons unable to produce documentation of citizenship who apply for these benefits, and allows citizens who believe that public officials have given undocumented persons benefits to sue for remedies.

15th Amendment

In the Ninth Circuit’s opinion, Ikuta and O’Connor held that the measure fails Constitutional muster for violating the intent of the legislature as manifest in the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NRVA). The decision in the case states that the “central purpose is to increase voter registration by streamlining voter registration procedures.” Therefore, as the NRVA does not require proof of citizenship as established under the provisions of Proposition 200, the state of Arizona is preempted from passing a law that illegally burdens the pre-existing federal statute.

15th Amendment

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