TOPEKA — The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has scheduled oral arguments for Aug. 23 in a federal court case over whether the state’s proof-of-citizenship requirements violated the National Voter Registration Act.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has until July 1 to file a brief in the case. Briefs by the plaintiff, Steven Wayne Fish, are due July 21. A time for oral arguments hasn’t yet been scheduled.
Monday’s order comes three days after the Denver-based court denied Kobach’s request for a stay of a lower court ruling but approved his request for expedited review.
Kobach is appealing a May 17 opinion by U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson that ordered the state to begin registering, for federal races, Kansans who had applications suspended or canceled because they didn’t provide proof of citizenship when they obtained a driver’s license.
In the ruling, Robinson criticized the state’s proof-of-citizenship law hailed by Kobach, writing, “even if instances of noncitizens voting cause indirect voter disenfranchisement by diluting the votes of citizens, such instances pale in comparison to the number of qualified citizens who have been disenfranchised by this law.”
In 2011, the state of Kansas toughened its voter registration statute, requiring applicants to submit proof of citizenship when they apply. Prospective voters who didn’t provide proof of citizenship were placed on a suspended list that was later purged.
“Although the court is cognizant that the injunction will cause some administrative burden to the state, it is a burden that is outweighed by the risk of thousands of otherwise eligible voters being disenfranchised in upcoming federal elections,” Robinson’s order said.
Kobach said last month he has considered appealing the case to the U.S. Supreme Court if his appeal falls short in Denver, saying, “I think this case would be a good one for review.”