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Contempt Is 'Well Deserved,' ACLU Says of Kansas Official

By William Vogeler, Esq. on April 23, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach "can't be trusted" and deserves to be punished.

That's what the American Civil Liberties Union said, not holding back its contempt for the state official. But the ACLU is not the only one holding Kobach in contempt.

A federal judge has held the secretary of state in contempt for a "history of non-compliance" with court orders. Those words may not break bones, but they will definitely hurt.


Fighting words are common in politics, where Kobach has made his career. He is running for governor in Kansas.

His run could come to an end, however, if Judge Julie Robinson puts him in jail. The judge found him in contempt for refusing to inform and register certain people that are eligible to vote.

Kobach claims he is acting to prevent voter fraud, following a state law that requires people to show proof of citizenship to vote. The ACLU sued to invalidate the law, claiming it violates the National Voter Registration Act.

In 2016, the judge ordered Kobach to stop enforcing the law pending trial. Rejecting his appeal, the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals said the Kansas law was a "mass denial of a fundamental constitutional right."

"No Coercive Sanctions"

According to reports, Kobach has prevented more than 35,000 Kansans from voting.

"Defendant has a history of non-compliance with the preliminary injunction order," wrote Robinson in granting the ACLU's contempt motion.

Expecting Kobach to comply with her prior orders, Robinson withheld "coercive sanctions" pending a decision on the merits of the case. In the meantime, Kobach will have to pay the ACLU's attorneys fees.

That should hurt at least as much as the ACLU's words.

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