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Federal Judge Tells Kris Kobach He Is So Totally Boned, Also In Contempt Of Court
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Kansas Secretary of State and ugly bag of mostly stupid Kris Kobach has been found in contempt of court by the federal judge who presided over the ACLU's lawsuit against Kansas's voter-suppression law. The trial in that case wrapped up in March, and was immediately followed by a hearing on the ACLU's contempt motion against Kobach for his refusal to comply with a 2016 order in an earlier phase of the case. Yesterday, US District Judge Julie Robinson delivered her decision on the contempt charge, finding Kobach guilty, guilty, guilty of both contempt and general dumbassery.
The contempt charge stems from Kobach's failure to follow Robinson's orders after a May 2016 order putting Kansas’s 2013 voter registration law on hold. The law, which Kobach convinced the state legislature was absolutely necessary to stop voter fraud by thousands of nonexistent non-citizen voters, required all applicants for voter registration to show proof of citizenship -- a birth certificate or passport, not a mere driver's license -- just to register to vote. Robinson enjoined Kobach from enforcing the law, told him he had to register thousands of Kansas voters whose registration was suspended for failure to show "documentary proof of citizenship" (DPOC) when they signed up to vote at the DMV, and instructed that all voters who'd been reinstated to the voting rolls had to be sent a postcard telling them they were registered to vote in the 2016 elections and where their polling places were.
You'd think that would be a fairly easy order to follow, but Kobach's office -- surprise! -- managed not to actually send out the notices. Kobach narrowly avoided a contempt hearing in the fall of 2016 by promising Robinson in a phone conference that he really truly had notified county elections offices to make sure voters were notified, but there was no evidence that the notification postcards actually went out, and in fact, as Robinson points out in her contempt order, one of the plaintiffs in the case, Charles Stricker, testified during the trial last month that when he tried in September 2016 to find out from his county election office whether he could actually vote in the November election,
the person with whom Mr. Stricker spoke stated that he was not sure whether Mr. Stricker would be allowed to vote. Mr. Stricker was told it was complicated because there were legal issues “up in the air.” When Mr. Stricker checked online to see if he was registered, there was no record of his registration.
Robinson rejected Kobach's many attempts to claim, in March's contempt hearing, that her order had been unclear or difficult to follow, largely because he had insisted in so many other hearings that he understood her instructions perfectly. We like the cut of her jib:
Robinson also didn't buy Kobach's attempt to shift blame to the counties for not following his instructions, which he insisted he really had told them to do. For one thing, he's the head elections official in Kansas, and the buck stopped with him. Also, if he really had issued clear orders to the counties, in compliance with the court order, they should have been pretty easy to follow -- it's registration and a postcard, you dip. Oh, yes, and claiming he'd sent clear instructions to the counties, which they failed to follow, rather undercuts his claim that Robinson's order was unclear, and isn't logic a bitch, Mr. Secretary?
Robinson also had little patience for Kobach's claim that "the Court’s orders were ambiguous, dynamic or fluid, and represented continuing changes in rules." Nope, sorry: The only reason she had to issue any follow-up orders at all was that Kobach had failed to comply with her May 2016 order in the first place. The order hadn't changed, but Kobach had certainly done everything he could to leave voters confused about what their status was. Not really a good strategy to tell the judge that her attempts to get him to comply were at fault, dude.
Instead of imposing a fine on Kobach -- who represented the state himself at the trial, and did so very, very poorly -- Robinson ordered him to pay the plaintiffs' legal costs for the expenses of trying to get Kobach to comply with the original order, because if Kobach and his team had actually just done what they were supposed to in the first place, "the Court is confident that Plaintiffs (and the Court) could have avoided significant time and expense in litigating this motion."
Bam. We would just like to note that Judge Julie Robinson, a George W. Bush appointee to the federal bench, is now our official imaginary judiciary girlfriend, not just for the contempt ruling (which we have to say is a remarkably good read, for being a legal order) but also for her refusal throughout last month's trial to put up with Kobach and his team's fumbling attempts at doing law. One moment in particular stands out for us: When a Kobach witness kept trying to talk over the ACLU attorney who was asking him questions, Robinson told him to shut it, if only for the sake of the poor court stenographer:
She can only take down one voice at a time or we’re going to kill her […] And then I’m going to kill everyone else.
Robinson is expected to rule on the actual lawsuit against the Kansas vote-suppression law later this year; given that Kobach and his rogue's gallery of evidence-faking dipshit witnesses were unable to show that non-citizen voters are actually voting or even registered in any substantial numbers, we're betting that ruling will make for a fascinating read as well. And that Kansas is going to have to let people vote, as those crazy old Founders intended.
Kobach, in the meantime, is primarying sitting Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer along with two other no-name candidates; it's unclear whether being shown to be a duplicitous idiot -- Robinson calls him "disingenuous" a couple times -- will even hurt him with Republican voters, because didn't we just say "GOP primary"? If he loses the voter-suppression case, we suppose Kobach could always demand voting rights for fetuses.
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