Kobach ordered to turn over document he used in meeting with Trump
Topeka ? A federal magistrate judge in Kansas City, Kan., has ordered Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to turn over a document he used during a meeting with then President-elect Donald Trump that focused on immigration issues.
U.S. Magistrate Judge James P. O’Hara issued an order Wednesday that Kobach turn over that document to the court, along with one other, as part of a lawsuit challenging the state’s proof-of-citizenship voter registration law.
The existence of the document became public when Kobach was photographed going into the meeting with Trump on Nov. 21 at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. He was holding a legal pad binder and several papers, one of which was clearly visible to TV and still cameras.
The document was titled “Department of Homeland Security / Kobach Strategic Plan for First 365 Days.” Portions of the page that were visible showed proposals for amendments to the National Voter Registration Act, or NVRA, which is at the heart of the lawsuit challenging the proof-of-citizenship law.
Kobach was widely thought to be a candidate for a post in the new Trump administration at the time, although he has not been nominated for any position.
Last year, U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson issued a temporary injunction blocking the state from enforcing part of that law until the case can be decided on its merits, saying there was sufficient evidence to suggest the Kansas law violates that national voter registration law.
In particular, Robinson cited a provision that says states “may require only the minimum amount of information necessary” to determine whether someone is eligible to register or is not already registered.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas, which is representing plaintiffs in the case, asked the court on Nov. 22 to order Kobach to produce that document as part of the discovery process leading up to a trial in the case.
Kobach objected to that request, saying the information the ACLU was seeking was privileged and irrelevant to the case.
In his order Wednesday, O’Hara rejected those arguments, but he also did not order Kobach to turn the document over to the plaintiffs. Instead, he ordered Kobach to turn them over to the court so he could review them and determine if they are relevant to the case.
He also ordered Kobach to turn over a draft of a possible future amendment to the NVRA that Kobach created and shared only with attorneys in his office.
ACLU attorney Doug Bonney was traveling Wednesday and was unavailable for comment. Kobach’s office did not immediately respond to an email request for comment.
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals said in its decision last year that Kobach must meet a two-tiered test in order to show the state’s law does not conflict with the NVRA: first, that a substantial number of noncitizens were registering to vote before the proof of citizenship law took effect; and second, that simply requiring voters to attest, under penalty of perjury, that they are U.S. citizens does not provide the “minimum information necessary” to determine if someone is qualified to vote.