- Associated Press - Thursday, May 4, 2017

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Legal challenges to a Kansas law requiring documentary proof of citizenship remain on track for trial after rulings Thursday in two separate federal cases.

U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson issued decisions that keep both cases alive in the courts.

The judge denied a motion for partial summary judgment sought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the League of Women Voters and voters. Robinson rejected the claim that the proof of citizenship law discriminates against people born outside Kansas.

But the key argument in the ACLU lawsuit is that the Kansas law violates the National Voter Registration Act, a federal law that requires only minimal information to register to vote. The ACLU contends that an assurance of U.S. citizenship under penalty of perjury is sufficient.

In a ruling upheld by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, Robinson last year ordered Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to register to vote anyone who filled out their registration at motor vehicle office in Kansas until the case is finally resolved at trial.

As of Jan. 3 there were 22,053 voter registration applications either cancelled or deemed incomplete in Kansas for failure to provide U.S. citizenship documents such as a birth certificate, passport or naturalization certificate, Robinson noted.

That preliminary injunction still remains in effect, meaning people who registered at motor vehicle offices in Kansas can vote regardless of whether they have provided the state a document proving their citizenship.

“We live to fight another day and we are happy about that,” said Doug Bonney, legal director for the ACLU in Kansas.

Bonney noted that when the appeals court upheld Robinson’s preliminary injunction, it noted that the those who sued were likely to win on their NVRA arguments.

Kobach said he is pleased with Robinson’s latest rulings because they “dispose of the main constitutional claims of the plaintiffs.”

He said the plaintiffs always had an “uphill climb” on the claims that were dismissed by Robinson. Kobach said he expects to file additional motions for summary judgment on the claims on other, non-constitutional issues in the coming months.

“I’m hopeful that this whole case will be resolved before the 2018 elections,” Kobach said.


Associated Press Writer John Hanna contributed to this story from Topeka, Kansas.

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