Part of Prop. 200 gets green light
December 9, 2004
PHOENIX - A federal judge has given the OK for Gov. Janet Napolitano to officially proclaim approval of parts of Proposition 200.
Judge David Bury, in an order released Wednesday, said Napolitano is free to declare that voters approved sections of the initiative that require proof of citizenship to register to vote and mandate that voters seeking to cast a ballot must first present identification.
That does not let the new voting procedures take effect. But it does permit the state to submit the change to the U.S. Justice Department, which must first review the measure to ensure it does not illegally impair the voting rights of minorities.
Seeking that approval now will expedite enactment of the new voting procedures if Bury rejects the legal challenges to the initiative before him.
But Bury left intact part of his original Nov. 30 order that bars the state from enforcing the section of Proposition 200 that says government employees must get proof that applicants for public benefits are in the United States legally and must report illegal entrants to federal officials. That order also precludes proclaiming voter approval of that section of the initiative.
Based on that, Napolitano late Wednesday signed a modified proclamation. The actual signing was done by an "auto pen" machine after the governor, who is in Washington, D.C., gave her verbal approval; she will formally sign it when she returns on Monday.
The move comes as a Colorado-based public interest law firm filed legal papers Wednesday to intervene on behalf of the Yes on 200 committee and Randy Pullen, its chairman, in the federal court lawsuit challenging the legality of the initiative. That lawsuit, filed by attorneys for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, contends both the voting and public-benefits provisions are illegal.
William Perry Pendley, president of Mountain States Legal Foundation, said he believes that Napolitano and Attorney General Terry Goddard won't vigorously defend the legality of the voter-approved law when the case goes back before Bury on Dec. 22.
Pendley noted that both personally opposed the initiative.
He also faulted the attorney general for issuing a formal legal opinion last month declaring that the provisions of Proposition 200 requiring proof of legal residency for "public benefits" apply to only a narrow range of services. Pendley said that's contrary to Pullen's views and the voters' views.
Both Napolitano and Goddard have insisted they will defend the legality of the initiative in court despite their personal feelings.
Pendley's motion, filed in federal court in Tucson, also seeks intervention in the lawsuit on behalf of the Federation for American Immigration Reform. He said the national group has an interest in the lawsuit because it spent more than $150,000 backing the measure.