Kansas secretary of state defies court order, won’t register eligible voters

“I think ‘immediately’ is kind of open to interpretation,” his office said.

Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach, arrives at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016, in Bedminster, N.J., to meet with President-elect Donald Trump. CREDIT: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach, arrives at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016, in Bedminster, N.J., to meet with President-elect Donald Trump. CREDIT: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Two days after a federal judge overturned his documentary proof-of-citizenship law and ordered him to register eligible voters, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is openly defying the court’s order.

According to the Topeka Capital Journal, Kobach’s elections director instructed county clerks to continue demanding proof-of-citizenship from anyone registering to vote until they receive written instruction otherwise. A spokeswoman for Kobach said his office is still reviewing the 118-page ruling, which clearly finds the law unconstitutional and orders Kobach to attend six hours of legal classes for violating rules of civil procedure.

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Danedri Herbert, the spokesperson for Kobach, said the judge was not clear when she instructed the secretary of state to accept voter registration applications without a document like a passport or birth certificate.

“I think ‘immediately’ is kind of open to interpretation,” Herbert said.

Dale Ho, the lead attorney for the ACLU, said Kobach’s defiance of the order did not appear to warrant emergency legal action.

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“We are still reviewing and confirming the facts,” he told ThinkProgress. “To me, it looks like there are still some compliance problems but they do not appear to be emergency issues.  We’ll continue reviewing.”

Ho also told the Capital Journal that Kobach’s decision to continue enforcing the law is “outrageous.”

In April, Judge Julie Robinson found Kobach in contempt of court for disobeying court orders “when he failed to ensure that voter registration applications covered by the preliminary injunction order became fully registered.”

Kobach, an experienced attorney, has repeatedly violated the law throughout the trial. Robinson sanctioned him on multiple occasions for violating rules of evidence. At trial, she had to explain to him and his staff attorneys basic rules of civil procedure.

“I’m not going to allow anybody to testify to a document that’s not in evidence,” she said at one point. “Evidence 101. I’m not going to do it.”

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In Monday’s order, she took that discipline to a new level when she ordered him to attend additional continuing legal education classes.