Kris Kobach’s commentary unfairly attacked The Eagle editorial board and used half-truths to mislead readers regarding the laws he either directly or indirectly authored (“Kansas’ voter law isn’t the same as Arizona’s,” June 29 Opinion).
Kobach claimed two wins and two “ties” on court decisions regarding laws he had written. He claimed decisions partially striking down Arizona’s SB 1070 and Alabama’s HB 56 were ties, because only minor provisions were removed. Here’s where he got a functional policy victory and a “tie” mixed up.
SB 1070 was designed to allow Arizona authorities to check for papers and arrest the undocumented – as evidenced by Kobach’s numerous comments that Arizona needed this because the federal government wasn’t doing its job on immigration enforcement. The U.S. Supreme Court ruling stated Arizona could not arrest individuals on minor immigration violations. SB 1070 was not about informing federal authorities of immigration issues that crop up during regular police work.
HB 56’s treatment was totally mischaracterized when Kobach wrote “only a few provisions were struck down.” Most headlines reported correctly that most of the Alabama bill (designed to make life bad enough for immigrants that they self-deport) was struck down.
In both cases, a federal court reviewed Kobach’s flagship anti-immigrant laws and ruled most of their implementation and enforcement mechanisms to be unconstitutional. In his commentary, he simply reinterpreted facts and changed the stated intent of the laws to create a fantasy that they are still workable after judicial review.
Regarding Kansas’ and Arizona’s voter laws, Kobach went even further into the realm of make-believe. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the state of Arizona could not require proof of citizenship from a voter to accept a federal voter-registration form. Kobach claimed that his Kansas version of the voter-suppression law is different from Arizona’s because Kansas’ requires election officials to indefinitely “suspend,” rather than deny, the voting rights of an individual who cannot provide proof of citizenship. Though the two laws are different procedurally, they are functionally the same: provide more information than required by the 1993 National Voter Registration Act or this state will not accept and use your voter registration as intended.
Kobach can try to say that court decisions were ties or anything other than a loss, but this is a fantasy – a delusion born of watching legislation that many people told him would be unconstitutional being struck down, time and time again.