Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Would You Pay Money to Learn Law from this Bozo?

Kris Kobach, darling of the Kansas right-wingers and Congressional loser in a district heavily slanted his way, is a professor at UMKC School of Law. What kind of credibility will he have left, now that the Kansas Court of Appeals has tossed him out of court for a reason a first-year law student would have foreseen, and perhaps prevented?

In a nutshell, Kobach and assorted other anti-immigrant nutcases filed a lawsuit challenging a duly-passed law allowing qualified alien students to receive in-state tuition rates in Kansas schools. The students must be "undocumented immigrants who attend Kansas high schools for three years and obtain either high school diplomas or state-issued GEDs. The students must sign affidavits saying they plan to apply or are applying for U.S. citizenship." Kobach sued on behalf of some out-of-state students who felt that they should also be entitled to in-state rates.

The Kansas Court of Appeals told Kobach and his clients to quit whining, because they could show no harm that they suffered. As first-year law students know, the Courts aren't there to give you a forum to bitch and moan about stuff that doesn't really matter to you. You have to show that you have "standing" - that the law impacts you.

What must have Kobach really red-faced, and his employers at UMKC wondering "Who hired this bonehead?", is the fact that he wasted so much time and effort on a lawsuit even his worst student could have told him was a bunch of nonsense. His supposedly conservative supporters should be criticizing him for wasting tax dollars incurred in defending this frivolous suit, as well.

(In a sidenote, though, the funniest quotation arising out of this whole debacle was from Dan Stein, the numbnuts who heads the organization that actually sponsored this waste of time. "Dan Stein, federation president, called the judge’s decision an 'appalling exercise in judicial activism, taking a blatantly illegal state law and using various procedural obstacles to keep these young people from having their day in court.'" Judicial activism?? I know that's a favorite phrase of the right wing, but, here, your complaint is that the court refused to engage in judicial activism. Are you stupid or dishonest? You're clearly one or the other.)


Anonymous Les said...

Dan, don't be so hard on Stein; he could be stupid and dishonest, ya know.

7/06/2005 11:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really, it's a bit much to call Kobach a bozo when you can't even get the court right.

7/06/2005 9:47 PM  
Blogger Brian Stayton said...

I knew Kobach when he was a summer associate at Spencer Fane Britt & Browne (funny that that stint is not on his bio). You have to admit, his is one of the most impressive bios on paper you've ever seen. I remember him as a really great guy -- low key, athletic, charming. I really, truly, don't understand how he turned into such a right-wing nutbag.

7/06/2005 10:09 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Hah! Anonymous, you are right! And, truly, that is embarassing. But, at least I made my mistake as a blogger, and not as an attorney for one of the parties. I promise you that if I were representing one of the parties, I would have gotten the court right, and I would have made sure I had standing taken care of.

7/07/2005 12:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If he made a mistake on standing as a lawyer at Spencer, Fane (or even in a legal memorandum as a law clerk), I can guarantee they would have tossed him out on his arse.

7/07/2005 5:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brian--I think you're being a bit hard on Kris. He's still the same guy you remember, and dedicated to public service. I'm not surprised that a few weeks in the summer a dozen years ago doesn't show up on his bio.

Dan, would you mind explaining how you'd take care of standing in this case? I mean, are you suggesting that the standing issue is easily resolved, and that Kris simply missed it? Or are you saying that the standing issue presents insuperable issues, and that Kris should have recognized that? If you weren't sure that standing could be assured to challenge the statute--which means that the illegal actions of the Kansas legislature would be allowed to stand--wouldn't you press ahead, trying to persuade the court that you had resolve the issue?

7/08/2005 4:03 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Anonymous - Kobach should have realized that his theory of standing (if it can be said that he had one) was compmlete nonsense, and he should not have participated in the suit as filed. I don't know whether the standing obstacle could have been cleared - I don't know all the facts, and I'm not being paid by Mr. "Judicial Activist" Stein to research issues like taxpayer standing or individual harm. Regardless, though, a constitutional law "scholar" should know better than to tie up the courts and waste taxpayer money on a lawsuit where the plaintiffs lacked standing. Are you implying that it's okay to press a frivolous lawsuit against a law you don't like simply because you can't come up with a valid lawsuit?

7/09/2005 1:40 PM  
Blogger Dana said...


There are plenty of well-known constitutional scholars who have participated in lawsuits which "push the envelope" in various ways including standing, "creative" new causes of action, etc. Erwin Chemerinsky, one of my former professors, is a constitutional scholar who immediately springs to mind. He's involved in the suit by Plame and Wilson, and also argued for expansion of RICO standing and predicates in a decision which was rejected by the US Supreme Court 8-0. And yes, I'd pay good money (and did) to learn Con Law and Federal Courts from Erwin, his politics notwithstanding.

10/09/2006 7:50 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Fair point there, but I would feel better about Kobach if he came out and said he knew he was stretching the point and trying a novel theory. As far as I've heard, he hasn't = though I'll also admit I may not hear everything he says . . .

10/09/2006 8:03 PM  
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