Government & Politics

Judge’s contempt finding on Kobach still stands after appeal's dismissal

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach File photo

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach ran into another hurdle Tuesday in his ongoing court battle with the American Civil Liberties Union.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed Kobach’s appeal of a contempt order handed down by a federal judge last month, finding that Kobach erred by filing his appeal before the judge had made final sanctions.

U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson has held off on imposing sanctions until she issues a final ruling in the case that will determine whether thousands of Kansas residents can vote in November when the state chooses a new governor.

Sophia Lin Lakin, an attorney for the ACLU, said Kobach will be able to appeal again in the future but that it was a “waste of time and state money and resources for him to have done it now.”

The cost of filing an appeal with the 10th Circuit is $505. That does not include any additional expenses incurred by Kobach’s staff in preparing the appeal.

Kobach’s office shrugged off the dismissal.

"The appellate court basically said it's too soon," said Sue Becker, an attorney with Kobach's office.

"It wants to hear the appeal after the district court judge issues her judgment from the trial or confirms the amount of the sanction that she has already ordered — whichever comes first. ... This simply means we refile the appeal once that happens," Becker said in a statement.

Kobach, a GOP candidate for governor, has served as his own attorney in the lawsuit against his office and repeatedly ran into procedural hurdles during a March trial, prompting multiple scoldings from Robinson.

In November 2016, the top election official in Kansas claimed that millions voted illegally in 2016, but can't point to hard evidence to support that.

Robinson found him in contempt for failing to comply with a previous order in the case requiring him to treat all voters equally while the case remains pending.

She ordered him to pay the ACLU’s attorneys’ fees, an expense that will come out of state coffers.

The ACLU calculated the cost of its attorneys’ fees as nearly $52,000 in a filing earlier this month, but the judge has yet to set a dollar figure. The appeals court said Kobach couldn’t appeal the attorneys’ fees until the judge sets a figure.

Kobach has previously said that his decision to represent himself would save the state money because he is not being paid additional money beyond his state salary.