The author of Arizona's controversial immigration law accused the U.S. Justice Department of going after conservative states during an appearance on a talk radio show in Wichita, Kan. Monday morning.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) used an appearance on the "Joseph Ashby Show" on KQAM to defend the Arizona law, which is currently pending before the Supreme Court, and the voter identification requirements he has championed in Kansas, while denouncing the Justice Department for what he believes are politically motivated decisions.
"The Obama Justice Department has gone after states that have taken a conservative direction," Kobach said. "It's interesting, whenever there is a liberal organization in violation of the law, the Justice Department doesn’t go after them. Going after states one after another like this Justice Department has done is a disgrace."
Kobach, Kansas' chief elections official, specifically singled out Justice Department actions relating to the Arizona immigration law and voter identification laws in Texas and South Carolina. He said that he is pleased that Kansas is not subject to the terms of the Voting Rights Act, which outlaws discriminatory voting practices, and could therefore implement its voter I.D. law without approval from federal officials.
"I believe the Obama Justice Department uses the law and laws like the Voting Rights Act unevenly," Kobach said. "They punish their political enemies. They don’t go after their allies like the Black Panther Party. The Black Panther Party is a radical left organization."
Kobach said that he believes that the Obama administration is running afoul of multiple federal laws in its cases over the Arizona immigration law and the federal health care law, which is also pending before the Supreme Court. The court is expected to rule on both cases by the end of this month.
“They didn’t have a solid legal basis for either one," Kobach said. "The Supreme Court is on the verge of telling them."
Kobach also blasted the American Civil Liberties Union for its opposition to the Arizona law, along with an immigration ordinance he wrote for Freemont, Kan. In addition to his duties as secretary of state, Kobach, a Justice Department official during the Bush administration, has written immigration laws for Arizona, Alabama and local governments on a freelance basis.
"These laws, whether it’s Freemont or Arizona, they are not as sweeping or draconian as the ACLU would suggest," he said.
He defended the Kansas voter I.D. law, saying that it improved the administration of elections in the state. He mentioned new electronic voter record-keeping procedures in Sedgwick County, which he said have eliminated all paper voter logs there. Kobach has argued that the law will decrease fraud at the ballot box, though there were just 221 reported cases of voter fraud in Kansas between 1997 and 2010.
Opponents of voter I.D. laws say they create an undue burden that disproportionately affects low-income and minority voters and reduces their participation, but Kobach dismissed that argument Monday.
"I find it a strange claim and almost racist," Kobach said. "Why should someone’s skin color prevent them from walking down to the office and getting a photo I.D.?"
Kobach circled back to the immigration laws, attacking moderate Senate Republicans in Kansas for blocking the implementation of eVerify, a federally administered program that compares employment records with lists of those legally allowed to work in the United States, for all employees of state government contractors. The conservative, GOP-controlled state House passed an eVerify bill this year, only to see it blocked by the Senate, which also blocked a 2011 attempt to repeal in-state tuition rates for undocumented immigrants.
Moderate Senate Republicans in Kansas have been locked in a bitter war with the conservative faction that controls the state House of Representatives and includes Kobach and Gov. Sam Brownback (R). Several senators are facing conservative primary challengers in August.
"The problem in Kansas is principally in the Senate, which is in the hands of a coalition of Democrats and liberal Republicans," Kobach said. "Hopefully that will change this summer."