Wichita The American Civil Liberties Union asked a federal court to force Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to turn over proposed changes to the nation's voter registration law that the conservative Republican was photographed bringing to a meeting in November with Donald Trump.
That draft document — which is partially obscured by Kobach's left arm and hand in the photograph taken by The Associated Press — is being sought as part of the ACLU's lawsuit challenging Kansas' restrictive voter registration law. The ALCU filed its request for the proposed amendments late Monday.
Kobach has championed Kansas' proof-of-citizenship requirement as an anti-fraud measure that keeps noncitizens from voting, including immigrants living in the U.S. illegally. Critics argue such requirements suppress voter turnout, particularly among young and minority voters, and that there have been few cases of fraud.
The ACLU contends the photographed document is relevant to its lawsuit because lobbying by Kobach to change the central provisions of the National Voter Registration Act may show that there's no problem with noncitizen registration in the state.
The ACLU argued that the proposal could provide "key evidence" that Kobach cannot rebut the presumption that existing federal law that requires people registering to vote to attest under penalty of law that they're citizens is enough. Kansas requires people to provide documents, such as a birth certificate, naturalization certificate or U.S. passport.
Kobach's attorney argued in a Jan. 20 email to the ACLU that the document is subject to "executive privilege" because "it was created and is maintained in Kobach's capacity as a Trump advisor."
"Additionally, to the extent you are now asking about the document seen in that photo, it is clear that the request is designed to harass, as opposed to actually obtain documents relevant to a claim or defense in this case," wrote Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Garrett Roe.
The ACLU argued in its court filing that executive privilege would not apply because Trump was not the president when the document was photographed and Kobach is not a member of the executive branch. It also contended that any "conceivable privilege" would be waived because Kobach permitted the document to be photographed by the media.