A federal judge has ordered Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to turn over by Friday documents that he shared with then President-elect Donald Trump in a case challenging Kansas’ voter registration requirements.
A federal magistrate judge had previously directed Kobach to produce the documents, but Kobach sought review of the order. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson on Wednesday denied Kobach’s request.
The controversy over the documents arose in a case challenging Kansas’ Documentary Proof of Citizenship law. The 2011 law requires Kansas residents to submit documentary proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate or passport, when registering to vote. The National Voter Registration Act, popularly known as the motor voter law, only requires an attestation of citizenship.
The plaintiffs are the Kansas League of Women Voters and individuals who tried to register to vote when they applied for a Kansas driver’s license but were unsuccessful. Their applications were deemed “incomplete” because they didn’t produce any of the documents required by the Kansas law.
Robinson last year blocked the law from taking effect pending a trial on the merits. A federal appeals court later upheld her decision.
In the meantime, the plaintiffs have been seeking the documents Kobach shared with Trump. One is Kobach’s draft for an amendment to the federal motor voter law, which makes it easy for voters to register when they get a driver’s license by simply swearing they are citizens.
The other shows Kobach’s ideas for a homeland security agenda with a reference to the possible amendment. The Associated Press photographed Kobach with that agenda under his arm at a November meeting with Trump at the president’s golf club in New Jersey during the presidential transition.
The plaintiffs say the document is relevant because it bears on the question of whether Kobach can prove that a substantial number of non-citizens have registered to vote in Kansas, as he insists.
Kobach claimed the document was irrelevant and protected by attorney-client and executive privilege.
Robinson disagreed, saying of the executive privilege claim that Kobach failed to show the photographed document reflected “presidential decisionmaking [sic] and deliberations.”
Dan Margolies is KUCR's health editor. You can reach him on Twitter @DanMargolies.