Robert J. Dole Federal Courthouse

Much was at stake in the two-plus weeks in Kansas City, Kansas, federal court where Secretary of State Kris Kobach defended the strict voter registration law he spearheaded and his office’s execution of those rules.

The case holds potential national ramifications for how difficult states can make voter registration, and for shedding light on whether enough illegal ballots get cast to justify tougher proof-of-citizenship rules.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3 FM

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach got a tongue lashing Tuesday from the judge who will decide whether he violated federal law by blocking tens of thousands of voter applications.

Federal Chief District Judge Julie Robinson, a George W. Bush appointee, accused Kobach of engaging in “gamesmanship” and skirting her orders.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas has filed a complaint in federal court on behalf of a Wichita man who said he was targeted because he is Muslim and was falsely accused of flying a terrorist flag.

The ACLU said in a news release Monday that it filed a complaint against the Spirit/Boeing Employees’ Association, or SBEA, on behalf of Munir Zanial, who works at Spirit AeroSystems.

SBEA is a member-owned nonprofit open to current or former Spirit and Boeing employees, according to its website. It is not affiliated with Spirit AeroSystems.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

(Daily developments below. Click here to jump to the most recent day's reporting. Or you can click here to read coverage of the contempt hearing that happened on Tuesday, March 20.)

How far must people go to prove they’re really Americans when they register to vote?

Does simply swearing to the fact — at risk of perjury, prison, fines and deportation — protect democracy from non-Americans subverting an election?

Or are cheaters common enough that only documents — say a birth certificate or a passport — go far enough to protect the integrity of the ballot box?

file photo / Kansas News Service

A Kansas law that blocked tens of thousands of voter registrations goes on trial this week in federal court — testing whether fraud is common enough to warrant tougher registration rules.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach wants to prove his oft-made and much-challenged assertions that voter fraud isn’t just a risk, but a real and widespread problem.

James Cavallini / Science Source

The Kansas Medicaid program sets too many barriers for patients to receive a potentially life-saving, if extremely costly, drug regimen, a lawsuit filed Thursday contends.

The class action filed in federal court argues that KanCare should cover the cost of medications that have proven effective in treating hepatitis C without subjecting patients to a lengthy list of conditions.

Ludovic Bertron / Flickr -- CC

In a decision with potentially far-reaching implications for discrimination law in Missouri, the state's high court on Tuesday agreed to hear two LGBT cases. 

One involves a transgender teenager who sued the Blue Springs R-IV School District in 2015 for denying him access to the men's bathroom.

The other involves a gay man, Harold Lampley, who claimed he was harassed by his employer because he didn't conform to stereotypical masculine behavior. 


It may seem like obtaining photo identification is an easy thing, but a lot of obstacles can stand in the way. Today, we discuss how getting a photo ID can be a high hurdle for a lot of folks, and how not having one can hold people back in ways big and small. Then, a major change to adoption law in Missouri just took effect.

File Photo / KCUR

The former legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas thinks a practice among some school boards of restricting patron complaints at public meetings eventually will end up in court.

Doug Bonney, legal director emeritus for ACLU Kansas, said if barring complaints about school board members, the superintendent or employees is common, that doesn’t make it right.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

A federal lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union questions the security of a multistate voter registration database championed by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

The ACLU this week added concerns about personal privacy and data security to its list of complaints against President Donald Trump’s voter fraud commission. The national organization also claims that the commission violated sunshine laws on public meetings and public documents.

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

In a corner of her house in Sparta in southwest Missouri, Jymie Jimerson has set up a kind of shrine. It has Native American art representing her Cherokee heritage alongside Willie Nelson albums, books and photos in remembrance of her late husband. On one side is a copy of Willie’s mid-’70s LP, “Red Headed Stranger.”

“When Steve was young, he had red hair and a red beard, so he always really identified with Willie’s Red Headed Stranger,” Jimerson says. “I try to keep it up there as a reminder of better days.”

File Photo / Kansas Public Radio

Newly unsealed testimony given by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach suggests he knew that the federal motor voter law might have to be amended for states to require proof of citizenship for voter registration.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Missouri schools continue to dole out harsher punishments to black students – and in particular, black students with disabilities – for disciplinary infractions than their white peers receive, according to a report from the American Civil Liberties Union on what’s been dubbed the school-to-prison pipeline.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

The American Civil Liberties Union launched a national voting rights campaign during a Sunday night event in Lawrence that was broadcast online throughout the country. It was the start of a grassroots effort, called Let People Vote, which the ACLU says is a chance to go on the offensive.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

The morning he was due in federal court to give a deposition in an ongoing voter registration case, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach tweeted his support for President Trump’s proposal to curb legal immigration.

Trump announced Tuesday a plan to limit legal immigration to highly skilled workers able to pay their own way. Kobach, who is the vice chair of a White House commission on election integrity, praised the president for placing the interests of Americans ahead of “the aliens.”

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas says wording on a state website might leave voters confused about whether they’re eligible to cast a ballot. The group wants Secretary of State Kris Kobach to make changes.

At issue is information about Kansas’ requirement that new voters prove their citizenship with a document such as a birth certificate or passport. Court rulings say that requirement currently doesn’t apply to people who register to vote at the Department of Motor Vehicles or use the federal voter registration form.

Shawnee Mission School District / YouTube

The ACLU of Kansas says a new policy adopted by the Shawnee Mission School Board may violate the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment. It has sent a letter to Board President Sarah Goodburn, urging the board to rescind the policy. 

BigStock Images

This story was updated at 1:26 p.m. Thursday to include the comments of Michael Barrett, head of the Missouri public defender system.

Last July, Shondel Church was arrested in Kansas City for allegedly stealing a generator and tool box from his stepmother.

Andy Marso / Kansas News Service

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach says his office has the names of 115 non-citizens who illegally registered or tried to register to vote in Kansas, but he won’t be able to prosecute many of them.


The Missouri Department of Corrections knowingly violated the state’s Sunshine Law when it refused to provide records about applicants who sought to witness Missouri executions, an appeals court ruled today.

The ACLU had sued to obtain the information to determine if the department was choosing witnesses impartially.

In response, the corrections department produced heavily redacted records, even though many witness applicants had agreed to produce the information.

Courtesy of Melissa Boohar

Updated, 10:20 a.m. Monday: The timeline has been updated to include additional documentation from the Secretary of State's Office regarding the language printed on DMV receipts in July.

Despite a court order clearing the way for them to vote this November, Kansans who registered at the Department of Motor Vehicles were still being told they would need to provide proof of citizenship up until an Oct. 18 deadline.


A huge majority of Kansans say they would support reducing non-violent drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor as a way to reduce the prison population in the state.

The poll from the ACLU of Kansas shows that 86 percent of those polled either strongly support or somewhat support what the organization calls the "defelonization of certain nonviolent drug convictions."

Gustavo Castillo / Wikimedia Commons

The American Civil Liberties Union is suing Kansas City Public Schools after a school resource officer handcuffed a second grader.

The incident happened in 2014, says ACLU of Missouri Executive Director Jeffrey Mittman, after 7-year-old Kalyb Wiley Primm began to cry in class.

Mittman says Primm had been bullied.

“He didn’t want to go with the officer, who was being scary,” Mittman says. “Instead of calming the child, instead of reassuring him, instead of finding out what was wrong, the officer yelled at him, told him to stop crying and then handcuffed him.”

Attacks like the one in Orlando, or San Bernardino, or even closer to home in Overland Park, Kansas, seem random and terrifying. How can local law enforcement prevent something like that from happening again? How does surveillance both protect our safety, yet still preserve our civil liberties?

And, in the aftermath of Orlando, a representative from our local Muslim community shares how it feels to be part of a "targeted group."


Freedom, Inc.

Feb 9, 2016

We explore the history and influence of the Kansas City political organization Freedom, Inc., one of the oldest African American political organizations in the country, and take a look at the relevance of the group in elections today.


  • Micah Kubic, author, Freedom, Inc. and Black Political Empowerment
  • Emiel Cleaver, producer, Freedom Is Now
  • Shalonn "Kiki" Curls, Missouri State Senator

It's a collaboration that few people saw coming: the Koch Brothers, the ACLU and President Obama working together on a common cause. All three are involved in a push to pass sweeping criminal justice reform this year. We speak with one of the package's key negotiators about what they're trying to achieve.


  • Mark Holden is general counsel for Koch Industries.

There's been a lot of ambiguity in the laws surrounding same-sex marriage in Kansas, with Johnson County clerks first given a green light to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and then swiftly given the red light in short order. So how do couples evaluate their options while the state is in limbo? And what's happening in the courts right now? 


ACLU Sues Missouri Over Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Feb 13, 2014
Dan Verbeck / KCUR

The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri  has filed suit, trying to overturn the state’s refusal to accept same-sex marriage.

The suit is in the name of a Kansas City couple and seven others around the State.

The suit assumes public attitudes have changed since the Missouri Constitution was altered to ban same-gender marriage a decade ago.  

Jim MacDonald and Andy Schuerman were legally married in Canada and are raising Schuerman’s  biological 3-year old daughter, Grace.

The American Civil Liberties Union says in a letter that it's ready to go to court over a voter registration law in Kansas.

The law requires people registering to vote for the first time in Kansas to prove their citizenship with a document such as a birth certificate. More than 12,000 voter registration applications have been put on hold because of that requirement.

Doug Bonney is with the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri. He says the law, which was strongly championed by Secretary of State Kris Kobach, puts unnecessary hurdles in front of voters.

The United States Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that police must obtain a search warrant to draw blood in routine drunk driving arrests.

The case stems from a 2010 drunk driving arrest in Cape Girardeau. At question is whether a Missouri Highway Patrol Officer violated Tyler McNeely’s protection from unreasonable search and seizure when he drew McNeely’s blood with neither a warrant nor his permission.