“Judge seems skeptical of call to block voter proof-of-citizenship requirement”

Josh Gerstein:

A federal judge sounded skeptical Monday about a request from voting and civil rights’ groups to block a federal official’s decision to embrace requirements in three states that new voters submit proof that they’re U.S. citizens.

During a 90-minute hearing, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon repeatedly asked about past and upcoming registration deadlines in Alabama, Georgia and Kansas, suggested that the parties who brought suit earlier this month may have acted too slowly and seemed focused on the fact that only a small percentage of voters register in any given year….

Kobach also argued that the 2014 decision by the then-director of the election panel was essentially ghost written by lawyers in the Civil Rights Divison of the Justice Department. “It appears the Department of Justice decided they were going to take the helm at this unmanned ship and commandeer it,” he said.

The letter from Newby and a current commissioner suggested that that DOJ was so involved in writing that 2014 decision that the department had a conflict of interest in deciding whether to defend Newby’s contrary action.

Justice Department lawyer Galen Thorp said that didn’t create a concern for the department.

“We believe there is no conflict,” he said.

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