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Supreme Court hears arguments on voter citizenship requirements

The US Supreme Court [official website] heard oral arguments [transcript, PDF] Monday in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc. [JURIST report] to consider Arizona's 2004 Proposition 200 [PDF], which requires citizens to show "proof of citizenship" in addition to photo identification, to vote. Attorneys for Arizona argued that the law does not contravene the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) [official website], nor is it limited by the NVRA, which says that states "must accept and use the Federal form." "I came here from Arizona on an airplane. If the airline said we accept and use an e-mail ticket, you don't need to bring a paper ticket. And then I got there and they said, we want to see identification to prove that you are who you say you are, that would not contradict the statement that they are accepting and using the e-ticket. They are accepting and using the e-ticket for a specific purpose." The attorney for Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc. [official website], said that approximately 31,550 known US citizens were prevented from voting due to the Proposition. She also argued that Arizona's requirement of proving citizenship rather than signing an oath testifying to citizenship or other means of proof, was what violates the NVRA. "[T]he State requirement of citizenship, it's permitted in the sense that Congress requires in three different ways that citizenship be affirmed. It's simply disagreeing about proof. So it's not as though citizenship is left off this form, it's simply a question of how it's proved."

The court also heard arguments [transcript, PDF] in Bullock v. Bank Champaign, NA [JURIST report] to consider what degree of misconduct by a trustee will disqualify a debt made by the trustee from discharge under the Bankruptcy Code [11 USC § 523(a)(4)]. The case hinges on the word defalcation [definition], which has remained undefined in the code through all amendments since 1841. The attorney for Randy Curtis-Bullock argued that his client did not have mens rea necessary to commit defalcation—which he argued should have been "extreme recklessness or conscious misbehavior by the actor"—and thus the debt he incurred when he mishandled being a trustee should be dischargeable. The attorney for Bank Champaign [corporate website] argued that other parts of the code—including sections barring debts from discharge due to fraud, embezzlement and willful and malicious injury—suggest that no mental intent is required for bad acts, including defalcation.

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