FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Dec. 14, 2020
CONTACT: Mark McCormick, Director of Strategic Communications, 913-490-4113, [email protected]
OVERLAND PARK, KS - The United States Supreme Court Monday rejected an attempt to breathe new life into a draconian Kansas law requiring documentary proof of citizen for voter registration, finally closing the book on a law that has failed at federal and appellate court levels.
“Kansas voters can breathe a sigh of relief,” said ACLU of Kansas Legal Director Lauren Bonds. “After years of litigation, we finally have a binding court decision blocking Kansas's suppressive documentary proof of citizenship requirement. We are eager to build on this victory and make voting more accessible to Kansans."
The justices turned away the state’s appeal of an April ruling by the Denver-based 10th Circuit Court of Appeals that threw out the law, championed by former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and since picked up by current Sec. of State Scott Schwab and current Attorney General Derek Schmidt.
Nadine Johnson, Executive Director of the ACLU of Kansas, welcomed the high court’s decision.
“This decision is a victory for democracy in Kansas,” Johnson said. “It offers an opportunity to turn Kansas into a national model for citizen participation in our elections. We encourage the state legislature and Secretary Schwab to seize this opportunity, and we look forward to working with them to make it happen.”
The 2013 law required people registering to vote in Kansas to present a U.S. passport, birth certificate or other proof of citizenship. Critics of the law described it as a voter suppression measure that placed an undue burden on people trying to vote.
On February 18, 2016, the American Civil Liberties Union and its Kansas affiliate 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 sought 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.
In 2018, U.S. District Court Judge Julie Robinson found that the law “disproportionately impacted duly qualified registration applicants, while only nominally preventing non-citizen voter registration.” Robinson also found Kobach in contempt of court during the trial and chided him for legal missteps.
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About the ACLU of Kansas: The ACLU of Kansas is the statewide affiliate of the national American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU of Kansas is dedicated to preserving and advancing the civil rights and legal freedoms guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights. For more information, visit our website at www.aclukansas.org.