549 U.S. 1 (2006), 06A375, Purcell v. Gonzalez

Docket Nº:06A375 (06-532), 06A379 (06-533).
Citation:549 U.S. 1, 127 S.Ct. 5, 166 L.Ed.2d 1
Party Name:Helen PURCELL, Maricopa County Recorder, et al. v. Maria M. GONZALEZ et al. Arizona et al. v. Maria M. GONZALEZ et al.
Case Date:October 20, 2006
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 1

549 U.S. 1 (2006)

127 S.Ct. 5, 166 L.Ed.2d 1

Helen PURCELL, Maricopa County Recorder, et al.


Maria M. GONZALEZ et al.

Arizona et al.


Maria M. GONZALEZ et al.

Nos. 06A375 (06-532), 06A379 (06-533).

United States Supreme Court

October 20, 2006 [*]


Plaintiffs below, Arizona residents, Indian tribes, and community groups, brought suit in federal court challenging the State's new voter identification requirements. The District Court denied their request for a preliminary injunction but issued no findings of fact or conclusions of law at that time. When, on appeal, plaintiffs received a briefing schedule concluding after the November election, they sought an injunction pending appeal, which the Ninth Circuit granted without explanation. Subsequently, the District Court issued its findings of fact and conclusion of law.

Held: There is no indication that the Ninth Circuit gave the necessary deference to the discretion of the District Court, and this was error. By failing to provide any factual findings or reasoning of its own, the Ninth Circuit left this Court in the position of evaluating the Circuit's bare order in light of the District Court's ultimate findings, which have not been shown to be incorrect. While this Court expresses no opinion on the correct disposition of the appeals or ultimate resolution of the cases, vacating the Ninth Circuit's order shall of necessity allow the election to proceed without an injunction suspending the requirements.

Certiorari granted; vacated and remanded.

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[127 S.Ct. 6] OPINION


The State of Arizona and county officials from four of its counties seek relief from an interlocutory injunction entered by a two-judge motions panel of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Justice Kennedy has referred the applicants' filings to the Court. We construe the filings of the State and the county officials as petitions for certiorari; we grant the petitions; and we vacate the order of the Court of Appeals.


In 2004, Arizona voters approved Proposition 200. The measure sought to combat voter fraud by requiring voters to present proof of citizenship when they register to vote and to present identification when they vote on election day.

The election procedures implemented to effect Proposition 200 do not necessarily result in the turning away of qualified, registered voters by election officials for lack of proper identification. A voter who arrives at the polls on election day without identification may cast a conditional provisional ballot. For that ballot to be counted, the voter is allowed five business days to return to a designated site and present proper identification. In addition any voter who knows...

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