Judge Holds Kobach In Contempt Of Court

Secretary of State Kris Kobach talks with a reporter in his office in Topeka, Kan., Wednesday, May 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
Orlin Wagner/AP

A federal judge has ordered that Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach be held in contempt of court for disobeying her orders in the proof-of-citizenship voter registration case.

Judge Julie Robinson in her decision Wednesday bashed Kobach’s failure to  send postcards to voters whose registrations were restored by her previous move to block the proof-of-citizenship requirement for the 2016 election.

“Kansans have come to expect these postcards to confirm their registration status, and Defendant ensured the Court on the record that they had been sent prior to the 2016 general election,” Robinson said. “They were not, and the fact that he sent a different notice to those voters does not wholly remove the contempt, nor does his attempt to resend postcards eighteen months after the election and five months after Plaintiffs notified him of the issue.”

She also took issue with Kobach’s refusal to update the state’s training manual for election officials to reflect her 2016 order blocking the proof-of-citizenship requirement. Kobach had argued that he need not change the manual until the Supreme Court had a chance to weigh in on the case, and that he communicated with election officials via email the changes in policy due to her 2016 order.

However he also refused to change the publicly available online version of the manual, until finally taking it down weeks before the contempt hearing in March.

“If this document was only available internally, the Court would be persuaded that Defendant did not disobey the Court’s order. But it was publicly available; the e-mails updating the document were not,” Robinson said Wednesday.

The judge also criticized Kobach for appearing to throw his staff under the bus in his ever-changing defenses of his actions regarding her 2016 order, and said she was “troubled by Defendant’s failure to take responsibility for violating this Court’s order.”

“Defendant deflected blame for his failure to comply onto county officials, and onto his own staff, some of whom are not licensed attorneys,” she said.

She ordered that Kobach cover the attorneys fees’ of the challengers in the case or the costs of their efforts to bring Kobach in compliance with her order. She said further remedies would be deferred until her final decision in the ACLU’s lawsuit challenging to the proof-citizenship requirement. The trial was in March.

Read Judge Julie Robinson’s decision below:

Comments
Masthead Masthead
Editor & Publisher:
Managing Editor:
News Editor:
Asistant Editor:
Editor at Large:
Investigations Desk:
Senior Political Correspondent:
Reporters:
Newswriters:
Front Page Editor:
Social Media Editor:
Prime Editor:
General Manager & General Counsel:
Executive Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Publishing Associate:
Front-End Developer:
Designer: