Late last week, Secretary of State Kris Kobach indicated he was considering an appeal of a federal court’s order that Kansas pay $389,000 in attorneys’ fees and expenses in connection with last year’s lawsuit over congressional and legislative redistricting.
“This is ridiculous, that these attorneys are being rewarded for piling on this lawsuit,” Kobach told the Associated Press. “This should never have happened.”
Kobach is exactly right. “This should never have happened.” However, the truly “ridiculous” aspect of this scenario is the fact that the Kansas redistricting plan was forced into the federal courts because Kansas legislators were hopelessly deadlocked on the issue and couldn’t complete their constitutionally mandated task.
One way to make the situation even more “ridiculous” would be to spend even more state money appealing the decision on attorneys’ fees. House Minority Leader Paul Davis, a Lawrence attorney, may be somewhat biased because he will receive some of those fees, but he noted that the federal judges have wide discretion to settle such issues and predicted there is “zero percent” chance the ruling will be overturned, adding that “Kris Kobach (a former law professor) has been around the court system, and he should know better” than to pursue an appeal.
Kobach indicated he was discussing the matter with Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s office. Given the fact that Schmidt already is asking for $1.2 million to help the state defend itself in expected challenges to several pieces of legislation passed this year, we hope cooler heads will prevail and the state will pay the fees as ordered and avoid another costly appeal.