Grenoble There’s a civil war happening in Kansas and the people are losing. Even worse it continues to also be a cancer spreading virally wherever it is not blocked in other states and nationally. The main carrier of this plague against democracy is Kris Kobach, the elected Secretary of State of Kansas, which gives him a small platform for his real work as the primary architect and author of hate speech couched as legislative acts around immigration, voting, marriage and other hard right issues. The truth is that Kris Kobach is evil, and my fear is that nothing is stopping him.
I’ve been on the Kobach Watch for years back to his early political races some years ago. He caught my attention when he was making speeches around the state of Kansas in his successful 2010 election calling for the people of Kansas to vote for him in order to prevent “ACORN from stealing elections” in the state. All’s fair in love, war, and I guess in Kobach’s view, politics, but I knew, as surely as Kobach knew at the time, that ACORN had no offices, staff or – to my knowledge – members in Kansas at the time, so Kobach’s campaign was constructed on a complete fabrication and was little more than an exercise in total demagoguery. Call me old fashioned now in the Age of Trump, but I see that as wrong.
I take some pleasure in the fact that the New York Times has noted that his zealotry has interfered with the federal administration of elections where a Kansan has tried to subvert the elections board in order to suppress votes at Kobach’s bidding. They didn’t name him out though, although they have now in editorials about his recalcitrance in blocking 17,000 voters based on extreme voter ID requirements. These voters can be counted in federal elections, but as Secretary of State despite losing all lower and higher court decisions, Kobach has ordered election officials not to count their local and state ballots to simply steal votes away. The Kansas City Star has called for him to lose the unique prosecutorial power he wrested from the state legislature as the only secretary of state in the country that can go to court over so-called voting fraud. In their words: “But now Kobach has been exposed as a big fraud on the issue of voter fraud, which studies have found to be almost nonexistent in America.” In another story, the Star wrote that Kobach’s voter cases had “exposed the incompetence of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach at home and his standing as a national embarrassment as a public official.” The Star couldn’t help but note that the Daily Kos had found that on the Secretary of State’s website, he gave different instructions in English than Spanish and gave incorrect information in Spanish to misdirect their votes.
And, believe it or not, this almost pales compared to his work opposing immigration where he serves as general counsel for a national hater group. Who wrote the notorious and unconstitutional Arizona immigrant profiling act? Kris Kobach that’s who. Who wrote the even worse anti-immigrant act in Alabama? Kris Kobach that’s who! Who was involved in dirty tricks in the effort to re-elect the Republican Senator from Kansas? Yes, of course Kris Kobach as well as fines for mishandling money as party chair in Kansas and contributions problems in all of this campaigns.
You don’t want to check Wikipedia on this dude. Under immigration it’s one hateful lawsuit after another targeting immigrants.
Kobach has also litigated several lawsuits defending cities and states that adopt laws to discourage illegal immigration. He served as lead lawyer defending the city of Valley Park, Missouri in a federal case concerning an ordinance that sanctioned employers who hire unauthorized aliens. The ordinance was upheld by Missouri federal judge E. Richard Webber on January 31, 2008 (Gray v. Valley Park, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7238). The ACLU, representing the plaintiff, appealed the case to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Kobach prevailed in the appeal, and the Court allowed the Valley Park ordinance to stand (Gray v. Valley Park, 567 F.3d 976 (8th Cir. 2009)).
Kobach is also the lead attorney defending the city of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, whose anti-illegal immigration ordinances had been struck down by a federal judge in Pennsylvania and again before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. In June 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated the Third Circuit’s decision and remanded the case back to the Third Circuit for reconsideration. Sup. Ct. No 10-722. In July 2013, the Third Circuit concluded again that both the employment and housing provisions of the Hazleton ordinances are pre-empted by federal immigration law.
He is currently involved with another lawsuit, involving a Farmers Branch, Texas ordinance that prevents landlords from renting to illegal immigrants. That case is on appeal before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. It was originally heard by a three judge panel, then the Fifth Circuit granted rehearing en banc before the entire Court. Case No. 10-10751.
Read ‘em, and weep.
So of course he was out early for Trump and calling for military across the border. And, not surprisingly, he has infected the national Republican platform and pushed it even farther right.
The court system is just a blunt weapon for attacks by Kobach, and he has no interest in the rule of law that underpins the court, only whether or not he can weaponized the system. Kobach is such an ideologue that he believes he is above the law and the people. He’s a shining example of what’s wrong with Kansas, but now he’s a national scourge and the enemy of democracy everywhere. He plays by no rules other than the ones he makes, and he tries to twist all the rules that matter.
What does it take to stop Kobach?