On February 18, 2016, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of the League of Women Voters, and individual Kansans. The lawsuit, Fish v. Kobach, was filed in the U.S. District Court in Kansas City. It seeks an order requiring Kansas to immediately register thousands of Kansans who sought to register to vote at a DMV office, but who were denied due to their supposed failure to comply with the state’s citizenship documentation requirements. The case was brought by the ACLU, the ACLU of Kansas, and Dechert LLP.
Kansans trying to register to vote at their state Department of Motor Vehicles offices are illegally being forced to provide additional documentation of citizenship–a requirement that violates the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), a federal law designed to make it easier for Americans to register to vote and maintain their registrations.
To comply with the NRVA, states have to provide people with an opportunity to register to vote when they apply for or renew their driver's licenses at the DMV. Instead, Kansans are being told they must present additional citizenship paperwork in order to become registered — or they're not being informed at all, only to find out later that they've been suspended from voting. As a result, more than 30,000 potential voters have been blocked from voting.
The ACLU is representing the League of Women Voters of Kansas, whose voter registration activities have been severely hampered by the documentary proof-of-citizenship law, and individual plaintiffs.
*UPDATE* On June 10, 2016, a federal appeals court ordered Kansas to register thousands of eligible voters who have been blocked from doing so. The state must begin registering them effective June 14. More here.
On June 18, 2018, the U.S. District Court in Kansas City has ruled in our favor in Fish v. Kobach. You can find the court's decision below and read our statement here.
On January 29, 2019, Kansas dropped its appeal against the contempt ruling against Kris Kobach, and agreed to pay the ACLU $20,000. But its appeal of the restrictive "papers please" law will continue, set for argument in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit on March 18, 2019.
On April 29, 2020, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the District Court's decision.
The parties in this case reached a settlement on a fee petition in September 2021 awarding plaintiffs $1,425,000 in fees and litigation expenses, which was granted by the Court on September 15.