In the end, the decision seemed inevitable. After a seven-day trial in Kansas City federal court in March, in which Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach needed to be tutored on basic trial procedure by the judge and was found in contempt for his “willful failure” to obey a ruling, even he knew his chances were slim. Kobach told The Kansas City Star at the time that he expected the judge would rule against him (though he expressed optimism in his chances on appeal). Sure enough, yesterday federal Judge Julie Robinson overturned the law that Kobach was defending as lead counsel for the state, dealing him an unalloyed defeat. The statute, championed by Kobach and signed into law in 2013, required Kansans to present proof of citizenship in order to register to vote. The American Civil Liberties Union sued, contending that the law violated the National Voter Registration Act (AKA the “motor voter” law), which was designed to make it easy to register.
Articles about voting issues in Kansas.
A federal judge has struck down a Kansas voter citizenship law that Secretary of State Kris Kobach had personally defended. Judge Julie Robinson also ordered Kobach, who is seeking the Republican nomination for governor, to take more hours of continuing legal education after he was found in contempt and was frequently chided during the trial over missteps. In an 118-page ruling Monday, Robinson ordered a halt to the state’s requirement that people provide proof of citizenship in order to register to vote. The decision holds the potential to make registration easier as the August and November elections approach. Robinson’s ruling amounted to a takedown of the law that Kobach had championed and lawmakers approved several years ago. She found that it “disproportionately impacts duly qualified registration applicants, while only nominally preventing noncitizen voter registration.”
Kansas: SOS Kris Kobach’s office paid $1,000 fine in federal case with state-issued credit card | The Topeka Capital-Journal
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach used state tax dollars to comply with a federal magistrate’s order to pay a $1,000 fine for misleading the court about documents in a folder he carried into a meeting with Donald Trump shortly after the Republican was elected president. U.S. Magistrate Judge James O’Hara levied the penalty against Kobach after concluding he made “patently misleading characterizations” to the court about materials he carried into the Trump meeting in late 2016. The judge urged the secretary of state to avoid making unsupportable positions in such matters because it “it hurts his or her credibility when the court considers arguments” on more complex matters. Micah Kubic, executive director of the ACLU of Kansas, said three weeks ago Kobach had paid the penalty “out of his own pocket.” However, a Kansas Open Records Act request of the Kansas Department of Administration produced records Friday showing the payment was processed July 21, 2017, with a credit card issued by the state to Craig McCullah, who at that time was deputy assistant secretary of state under Kobach and is now seeking the Republican Party’s nomination as secretary of state.
Kansas: Kobach attorney says ACLU fees for contempt are redundant, excessive | The Topeka Capital-Journal
An attorney for Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach says the attorney fees requested by the American Civil Liberties Union for a contempt finding against Kobach are unreasonably high. In the latest filing in a case over the state’s voter registration law, which requires applicants to provide proof of citizenship, Sue Becker argues $50,000 is too costly for a single motion. A federal judge issued the contempt ruling in April, a month after a hearing over the failure of Kobach and his office to comply with her orders in the case.
An appeals court dismissed Tuesday a request by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to overturn a federal judge’s finding that he was in contempt of court. The three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in its dismissal that Kobach had appealed the contempt finding prematurely. “Although the district court stated that it was imposing sanctions, specific sanctions have not yet been imposed,” the judges wrote. “Here, not only has the district court not issued findings of fact and conclusions of law or final judgment, the district court has not determined a discernable amount of sanctions.”
The American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday asked Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to correct voting information on state and county websites or risk further legal action. Kobach fought ACLU in a trial in March over the state’s proof of citizenship requirement in voter registrations. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson blocked enforcement of the law pending outcome of the case, then found Kobach to be in contempt for failing to comply with her orders. In a letter emailed to Kobach, ACLU points out multiple online references that erroneously say voters must prove their citizenship before voting. ACLU asks for changes to four sections of the secretary of state’s website, as well as information found on Douglas, Riley and Crawford county websites. ACLU attorney Dale Ho said Kobach “should have taken care of all of this long ago.”
The American Civil Liberties Union is asking for more than $50,000 in compensation for hours spent fighting Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach over issues that led to his contempt of court finding. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson ordered Kobach’s office to pay for attorney fees and expenses when she ruled last month that Kobach ignored her orders after she blocked enforcement of the state’s voter registration law. Kobach has filed a notice with the court saying he intends to appeal her decision. Kobach failed to follow through on a promise to Robinson that counties would send postcards notifying people they could vote, even if they failed to show proof of citizenship when they registered. He continued to fight the notion that postcards were necessary until the day of his contempt hearing, which followed a trial in which he struggled to prove claims of widespread voter fraud.
Kansas lawmakers have abandoned an effort to force Secretary of State Kris Kobach to pay out of his own pocket the costs of being held in contempt of court. The decision ended a looming showdown between Kobach and the Legislature over who is on the hook financially. Kobach was dressed down by a federal judge during a civil trial over voter rights and ordered to pay attorney fees for the plaintiffs in the case. The Legislature’s decision to drop the effort means Kobach will be able to use state money to pay any fines stemming from being found in contempt. During negotiations over the state budget, lawmakers on Tuesday removed a prohibition on using state money to pay for contempt fines or defend himself against contempt. The House had approved the rule last week. Lawmakers negotiating a final deal on the budget removed the prohibition after a letter from Kobach’s office to top Republicans contending the ban would be illegal became public.
Kansas: Kobach’s office: Stopping him from paying contempt fine with state money ‘illegal’ | The Kansas City Star
Kris Kobach’s office says a House effort to stop him from using state money to pay fines for being found in contempt of court is illegal. A top lawyer in the secretary of state’s office condemned the Republican-controlled House’s decision to put the prohibition in its most recent budget. In a letter to legislative leaders obtained by McClatchy, senior counsel Sue Becker raised potential problems with the budget requirement. “(The) proviso is illegal and would require the State to expend significant resources in any futile attempt to defend it,” the letter says.
A move by a Kansas House Republican would keep GOP Secretary of State Kris Kobach from using state money to pay for being found in contempt of court. Kobach, who is running for governor, was found in contempt of court by a federal judge earlier this month. The legislation was offered by Rep. Russ Jennings, R-Lakin. He said the move would prohibit using any state money for defense or penalties involved in a finding of a contempt of court by statewide elected officials. That would include the governor and the secretary of state. “You pay your own bills if you get yourself in that kind of trouble,” Jennings said. The change passed, 103-16. The overall budget bill that includes the prohibition is still a ways from making it to Gov. Jeff Colyer’s desk.