IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Kansas' Kobach suffers humiliating loss in federal court

Legally and professionally, Kansas Kris Koback -- a national voter-suppression pioneer -- suffered a humiliating setback in a federal courtroom yesterday.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach in his Topeka, Kan., office, Aug. 1, 2013. (Photo by John Hanna/AP)
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach in his Topeka, Kan., office, Aug. 1, 2013. 

Following up on a story we've been keeping an eye on, it's been several years since Kansas Republicans first imposed voting restrictions on state residents, including requirements that Kansans show proof of citizenship when registering. The ACLU, among others, challenged the measure in federal court, while Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) personally defended them.

That is, of course, the same Kobach who's championed voter-suppression techniques at the national level, and helped lead Donald Trump's ridiculous voting commission, which ended in failure.

So, too, did his defense of the Kansas law. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson yesterday struck down the measure as unconstitutional.

No other state has been as aggressive as Kansas in imposing proof-of-citizenship voter registration requirements. Alabama and Georgia have proof-of-citizenship laws that are not currently being enforced, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Arizona is the only other state with a similar law in effect, but that law is far more lenient and allows people to satisfy it by writing their driver's license number on the voter registration form.The lead case filed by the ACLU on behalf of several named voters and the League of Women Voters is centered on the National Voter Registration Act, commonly known as the Motor Voter Law, which allows people to register to vote when applying for a driver's license. The case required Kobach to prove that Kansas has a significant problem with noncitizens registering to vote.

Not surprisingly, Kobach struggled to offer evidence that doesn't exist. The judge's ruling is online here.

And while this was clearly an embarrassing outcome for the Kansas Republican -- who also happens to be running for governor this year -- what made yesterday especially brutal for Kobach was the extent to which the judge in this case humiliated him over his professional standards.

The Wichita Eagle  reported that Robinson, while ruling against the state, "also ordered Kobach, ... to take more hours of continuing legal education after he was found in contempt and was frequently chided during the trial over missteps."

In fact, in this case, Kobach was found in contempt twice. Slate's Mark Joseph Stern recently pulled together a list of "all the ways Kris Kobach has already lied to the court that's overseeing his Kansas voter fraud trial," and it wasn't a short list.

Evidently, that didn't go over well.