U.S. Supreme Court Compels GOP Lawmakers To Cooperate In Voting Rights Case

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The U.S. Supreme Court has set the top legislator in each state chamber in Arizona on a path towards a potential deposition in a lawsuit challenging new requirements around voting there for proof of citizenship.

Under the challenged framework as it was originally approved, prospective voters using federal documents to register would need to submit an additional proof of citizenship in order to cast votes in most elections and vote by mail at all. Though it is a more recent change, the federally originating documents are seemingly now the only forms functionally used in the state. Earlier news coverage identifies a status quo before this challenged demand for proof of citizenship as involving citizenship checks for most voters that would not have required them to give authorities any additional indication of their citizenship status, meaning these procedural burdens are new.

The plaintiffs in this case challenging the citizenship documentation hurdles include the Biden administration itself. Those leading Republican state legislators, including Ben Toma in the state House and Warren Petersen in the Arizona state Senate, were trying to block the prospect of additional discovery obligations on them as proceedings continued. Discovery in this context refers to the routine assembling and sharing of materials between sides before trial, and Toma and Petersen attempted citing legislative privilege.

“The district rejected that argument, ruling that Toma and Petersen had waived their privilege when they opted to join the case, and both the district court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit held that the depositions could go forward,” SCOTUSblog reported. As has been the case with others hoping to use a legal concept of ostensible privilege for their cause, Toma and Petersen suggested there’d be some kind of chilling effect if the discovery push targeting them was allowed to proceed.

From the Supreme Court, the legislative duo had been seeking a temporary delay in the discovery push while they sought a reversal of earlier court directives. Now, they may soon be answering about the legislature’s formulation of those controversial rules — some of which were put on hold, reports apparently indicate.