Sorry Kobach, lawsuits have consequences

Anu Joshi • Mar 09, 2015
Kris Kobach
Kris Kobach

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach doesn’t seem to want to accept the consequences of his actions—or more precisely, he’s trying to ensure that cities and states that take his advice don’t have to bear the consequences.

In 2006, Hazleton, Pennsylvania passed a series of local ordinances designed to make it more difficult for undocumented immigrants to live in the city. The ordinances prohibited landlords from renting to undocumented immigrants by requiring an occupancy permit and prohibited city businesses from hiring undocumented immigrants. Ultimately the rental ordinance was declared unconstitutional by a federal court after a protracted multi-year challenge.

Now, Kobach is arguing that the attorneys who successfully challenged Hazleton’s unconstitutional law should drastically reduce their legal fees. Maybe he’s feeling guilty. After all, he is the person who not only helped draft Hazleton’s anti-immigrant legislation, but also defended it by representing the city in the legal challenges that followed its passage.

Hazleton is by no means the site of Kobach’s first foray into unsuccessful local anti-immigrant legislation.  He has drafted and unsuccessfully defended similar anti-immigrant legislation in several other areas across the country. Last year, an anti-immigrant ordinance in Farmers Branch, Texas that Kobach helped to draft was finally declared unconstitutional. This resolved a years-long legal battle that cost the city over $6 million in legal expenses.

So, cities and counties beware—if Kris Kobach comes to town you’ll probably end up footing the bill.

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