Archive for Monday, June 29, 2015

Supreme Court declines to hear Kobach appeal on proof of citizenship

June 29, 2015, 9:28 a.m. Updated June 29, 2015, 2:52 p.m.


— People in Kansas can still register to vote in federal elections without showing proof of citizenship, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday. But whether those people will be allowed to vote in state and local elections remains an open question.

The court on Monday refused to hear Kansas Secretary of State Kobach’s appeal in a case in which he asked that the U.S. Election Assistance Commission provide a federal voter registration form that comports with state law, which requires voters to show proof of citizenship.

Last year, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Kobach, saying the EAC did not have to provide a revised federal form for use in Kansas. The Supreme Court’s decision Monday not to hear Kobach’s appeal means the 10th Circuit’s ruling will stand.

Kobach said Monday he wasn’t surprised by the ruling because the Supreme Court often waits until there is a split between different appellate courts before taking a case, and so far the 10th Circuit is the only appellate court that has ruled on the question of amending the federal registration form.

Meanwhile, a separate lawsuit is pending in state court that challenges Kobach’s policy of not allowing people who registered using the federal form to vote in state and local races. That case, which is pending before Shawnee County District Judge Frank Theis, was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the League of Women Voters.

“Now that the Supreme Court has said the federal form doesn’t have to be changed, the question is teed up for him to answer,” said Mark Johnson, a lecturer on election law at Kansas University who also serves on the board of the ACLU of Kansas. “On the constitutional argument, there is the possibility that we could have a bifurcated election system.”

During the 2014 elections, while both the state and federal cases were still pending, Kobach’s office conducted a “dual” election system in which people who had registered to vote and shown proof of citizenship using the state form were allowed to vote in all races, but people who used the federal form could only vote in federal races.

Attorneys for the ACLU asked Theis in July 2014 to block Kobach from holding dual elections. But with state and federal primary elections only a month away, and with a related case still pending at that time before the 10th Circuit, Theis declined to step in.

The 10th Circuit did not issue its decision, declining to force the EAC to provide revised federal forms, until Nov. 7 last year, three days after the general election.

Since then, there has been little action on the ACLU lawsuit in Shawnee County, in part because Theis was also the presiding judge on a three-judge panel that oversaw the massive school finance lawsuit. A ruling in that case was just handed down Friday.

As a result of the proof-of-citizenship requirement, more than 23,000 people who’d failed to provide the required documents were prevented from voting in 2014 because their registrations had been placed “in suspense.”

Meanwhile, a small number of people who’d registered using the federal form were only allowed to vote in federal races.

However, if Judge Theis rules in the ACLU lawsuit that the state cannot operate a dual election system, that would open a door to negating the proof of citizenship law because voters could merely bypass it by registering to vote using the federal form.

Kobach, however, said he doesn’t think that’s likely to happen.

“The federal form was created by a federal statute, and the statute says it is for federal elections,” Kobach said. “It doesn’t purport to make that form available for state elections. Some states use it as a matter of courtesy, but no state is required to do so.”

— Peter Hancock can be reached at (785) 354-4222. Email him at


Larry Sturm 2 years, 11 months ago

Gerrymandering the voting system should be against the law and the perpetrators put in jail.

Greg Cooper 2 years, 11 months ago

Rhetorical question" "When will Kobach learn that he and the state can not override Federal law?"

Rhetorical, but germane, answer: "He probably won't, but will continue wasting Kansas tax dollars trying."

David Carson 2 years, 11 months ago

What really gets me, is that none of the republicans that back this kind of junk can prove any voter fraud exists. Why in the world are they so serially dishonest?

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 2 years, 11 months ago

And in Kansas, f there has been voter fraud, it must not be working, since Kobach and Brownback got reelected. Unless that's how they got reelected.

David Reber 2 years, 11 months ago

Not everyone has a birth certificate. Birth certificates aren't free. Therefore, requiring a birth certificate = poll tax. This issue was decided long ago. Kobach and his ilk have deliberately ignored the constitution they swore to uphold. They belong in prison.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 2 years, 11 months ago

One more great reason that Ted Cruz's stupid grandstanding stance that all Supreme Court judges be subject to voter recall if they do not pass Ted Cruz's notion of justice.

Don't like what he court of law does?. Out with them..........Typical GOP logic.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 2 years, 11 months ago

If Cruz had his way, he would change the constitution to only allow those who converted to Christianity to be legal citizens. Everyone else would be non citizens and have no rights. And we are talking only evangelical Christians, not Congregationalists or any other liberal church.

Scott Burkhart 2 years, 11 months ago

Overreact much, Dorothy? That has to be the most reactionary and obtuse statement that I have ever seen you post. You are an educated person, whom I have met. You are better than that. Your statement is tantamount to claiming that every Republican believed Barack Obama was not a natural born citizen. Pure nonsense. What's more, religious bigotry is unattractive, too.

Lawrence Freeman 2 years, 11 months ago

Not really, she was talking specifically about cruz.

Scott Burkhart 2 years, 11 months ago

I've just never heard Sen. Ted Cruz advocate anything like what she stated. Maybe one of you could come up with a direct quote from a dependable source. Oh, and thank you for defending her. I didn't realize that you felt she couldn't reply herself. After all, my remark was directed at her and no you.

Lawrence Freeman 2 years, 11 months ago

You're welcome. Just making an observation. Direct quotes aren't necessary to form a personal opinion, just observing their actions is enough. It is interesting though that you compared a attack against cruz as an attack against the entire republican party.

David Carson 2 years, 11 months ago

Scott, why are you constantly so snotty to other posters? That being said, Cruz is just that kind of person. He is a dangerous and demented individual, and does not need to be anywhere near the presidency.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 2 years, 11 months ago

So Scott, Ted Cruz is not a Dominionist? Someone needs to tell his father, one of Ted's major influences, that he has given up their philosophy. Ted Cruz wants to change the way the Supreme Court is selected, because they didn't go his way? He's already proposing changing our constitution, because he doesn't like it.

Phil Minkin 2 years, 11 months ago

STOP THE PRESSES!! I agree with Scott Burkhart.

Kendall Simmons 2 years, 11 months ago

Why??? Dorothy was only talking about Ted Cruz. And being facetious at that.

Steve King 2 years, 11 months ago

Scary thing is his ambitions are to run for Gov when Sam leaves. Burrrr....

Paul Beyer 2 years, 11 months ago

Waiting for little krissie to announce he's prosecuting himself for voter fraud.

Richard Heckler 2 years, 11 months ago

What in the world does the Kobach expense account look like? Koback is a right wing reckless spender most certainly not even close to a fiscal conservative.

All in the name of voter suppression !!

Richard Crank 2 years, 11 months ago

Too bad SCOTUS couldn't also summarily remove him from office and order his arrest over the "agricultural-only-but-also-residential-building" nonsense ... which no lawyer worthy of the degree would want himself linked to.

Ken Lassman 2 years, 11 months ago

Any business who sees that we have a two tier form of voting and STILL wants to move here is not a business that I'd want to have in our state. Conversely, any business which runs for the door once it finds out about Kobach's plan is the kind of business I'd love to have here. Congratulations, Mr. Secretary of State: you've created the Salem Witch trial method for evaluating businesses! You know, if the suspect drowns, she wasn't a witch, but if she floats, she is a witch and must be burned at the stake.

Lawrence Freeman 2 years, 11 months ago

Has any major new business relocated to Kansas since 2012? I do know a few have moved out or cut back.

Phillip Chappuie 2 years, 11 months ago

That is a good question Larry. I know Boeing skeedaddled out of Wichita. Amazon bailed on Coffeyville. Who has a new manufacturing facility that has created...say 500 hundred, or even 200 jobs in a plant? Conversely, go ahead and add to my list of two. I don't believe we are business attractive to the outside world.

Lawrence Freeman 2 years, 11 months ago

You left out Verizon cut out around a thousand jobs in Johnson county. I haven't heard of any good jobs moving in or being created.

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