Judge orders Kobach to disclose plan taken to Trump by end of week

President-elect Donald Trump pauses to pose for photographs as he greets Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach, at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016, in Bedminster, N.J.. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Wichita — A federal judge has given Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach until Friday to give the American Civil Liberties Union two documents outlining proposed changes to a federal voting law.

U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson said Wednesday that she privately reviewed the documents, including the one Kobach was photographed taking into a meeting with then-President-elect Donald Trump in November.

Robinson said she found no error in a magistrate’s April 17 ruling requiring Kobach to produce the redacted documents as part of a lawsuit challenging the state’s voter registration requirements. The ACLU is representing some Kansas voters and the League of Women Voters in that lawsuit.

An Associated Press photo of the November meeting showed Kobach holding a paper outlining homeland security issues, including proposed changes to the National Voter Registration Act. The other document the ACLU is seeking from Kobach is an internal office document about his proposed changes to that voting law.

Kobach’s spokeswoman, Samantha Poetter, said their office is still reviewing the order. The ACLU said such discovery orders are typically not appealed to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Robinson issued a preliminary injunction last year that required Kobach to register for federal elections people who registered at motor vehicle offices, regardless of whether they provided proof of citizenship.

Doug Bonney, legal director for the ACLU of Kansas, said once Kobach produces the two documents, it will complete the evidence-gathering phase and will get the case closer to a final judgment on its merits.

“That, we hope, will make the injunction we obtained about a year ago permanent and will be a great victory for the voting rights of all Kansans,” Bonney said.

The ACLU contends that the documents they are seeking could conceivably help them prove their case because Kobach’s efforts to change the federal statute under which he is being sued suggests he may be having a problem complying with federal law the way it is written.

Robinson rejected Kobach’s arguments that they were not relevant to the lawsuit challenging the state’s law that requires people registering to vote in Kansas to show proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate or passport.

The ACLU’s lawsuit contends that federal law requires minimal information — such as an attestation under penalty of perjury that the person is a citizen — in order to register.