Ten Commandments monument installed in Arkansas; ACLU vows court fight

A statue of the Ten Commandments is seen after it was installed on the grounds of the state Capitol in Little Rock, Arkansas, U.S. June 27, 2017. REUTERS/Steve Barnes

By Steve Barnes

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Reuters) – Arkansas installed a Ten Commandments monument on the state’s Capitol grounds on Tuesday, and a civil liberties group pledged a court challenge, saying it showed an unconstitutional government preference for a certain religion.

Legislators approved the act for the monument in 2015, and whether it was appropriate for the public grounds has been debated since. Similar monuments erected in Oklahoma and Alabama were ordered removed by courts.

At the installation ceremony for the some 3,000-pound (1,360 kg) granite slab in Little Rock, state Senator Jason Rapert noted that the Ten Commandments were chiseled into the portals of the U.S. Supreme Court.

“If it’s good enough for the U.S. Capitol, it’s good enough for the state of Arkansas,” said Rapert, an evangelist who sponsored the legislation permitting the new monument.

But Rita Sklar, executive director of the Arkansas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the group is preparing to file a lawsuit over the monument’s placement.

“It’s a visible symbol of government endorsement of one particular religious belief over others, or over no belief,” Sklar said.

Since Arkansas’ Ten Commandments monument act was proposed about two years ago, Satanists and other groups have also sought state permission to place monuments on capitol grounds but were rejected.

Rapert and other supporters of the monument noted that the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005 had ruled in favor of a similar memorial on the Texas state capitol grounds. They said they were confident the Arkansas version would withstand a legal challenge.

But Sklar said the Supreme Court had noted the Texas monument had been in place for decades, giving it historical value.

In 2015, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ordered a Ten Commandments monument to be removed from capitol grounds there because the state’s constitution bans the use of state property for the benefit of a religion.

(Reporting by Steve Barnes; Additional reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Leslie Adler)

U.S. judge halts deportation of Iraqis nationwide

FILE PHOTO: Protesters rally outside the federal court just before a hearing to consider a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of Iraqi nationals facing deportation, in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., June 21, 2017. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

By Steve Friess

DETROIT (Reuters) – A federal judge halted late on Monday the deportation of all Iraqi nationals detained during immigration sweeps across the United States this month until at least July 10, expanding a stay he imposed last week.

The stay had initially only protected 114 detainees from the Detroit area.

U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith sided with lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union who filed an amended complaint on Saturday seeking to prevent Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from deporting Iraqis from anywhere in the United States.

The ACLU argued those being deported could face persecution, torture, or death because many were Chaldean Catholics, Sunni Muslims, or Iraqi Kurds and that the groups were recognized as targets of ill-treatment in Iraq.

Goldsmith agreed with the ACLU on the grave consequences deportees may face, writing in his seven-page opinion and order that: “Such harm far outweighs any interest the Government may have in proceeding with the removals immediately.”

On Thursday, Goldsmith ordered a stay in the Michigan Iraqis’ deportation for at least two weeks while he decided whether he had jurisdiction over the merits of deporting immigrants who could face physical danger in their countries of origin.

He expanded his stay on Monday to the broader class of Iraqi nationals nationwide, saying it applies to the removal of all Iraqi nationals in the United States with final orders of removal who have been or will be detained by ICE.

There are 1,444 Iraqi nationals who have final deportation orders against them, although only 199 of them were detained as part of a nationwide sweep by immigration authorities, federal prosecutors said in court on Monday.

Those detained had convictions for serious crimes, including rape and kidnapping, ICE said.

Goldsmith also said his stays were designed to give detainees time to find legal representation to appeal against their deportation orders, and to give him time to weigh the question of his jurisdiction.

Daniel Lemisch, acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, called the opinion “highly extraordinary.”

“But it’s a very extraordinary circumstance because of the on-the-ground situation in Iraq,” Lemisch said by phone, referring to the danger faced by possible deportees.

ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt praised the ruling for saying that “the lives of these individuals should not depend on what part of the United States they reside and whether they could find a lawyer to file a federal court action.”

Goldsmith’s order came the same day the U.S. Supreme Court handed a victory to President Donald Trump by reviving parts of a travel ban on people from six Muslim-majority countries.

The roundup in Michigan followed Iraq’s agreement to accept deportees as part of a deal that removed the country from Trump’s revised temporary travel ban.

Some of those affected came to the United States as children and committed their crimes decades ago, but they had been allowed to stay because Iraq previously declined to issue travel documents for them.

That changed after the two governments came to the agreement in March.

(Reporting by Steve Friess in Detroit; Editing by Eric M. Johnson, Bill Trott and Paul Tait)

U.S. top court to hear key religious rights case involving Missouri church

The Supreme Court is seen ahead of the Senate voting to confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch as an Associate Justice in Washington, DC, U.S. April 7, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

By Lawrence Hurley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday will hear a closely watched dispute over supplying taxpayer money to religious entities in which a church accuses Missouri of violating its religious rights by denying it state funds for a playground project.

The case, which examines the limits of religious freedom under the U.S. Constitution, is one of the most important before the court in its current term. It also marks the biggest test to date for the court’s newest justice, President Donald Trump’s appointee Neil Gorsuch.

The court’s conservative majority may be sympathetic to the church’s views. But there are questions over whether the nine justices will end up deciding the merits of the case after Missouri’s Republican governor, Eric Greitens, last Thursday reversed the state policy that banned religious entities from applying for the funds.

Even though Trinity Lutheran Church in Columbia, Missouri could now actually apply for money from the grant program that helps nonprofit groups buy rubber playground surfaces made from recycled tires, its lawyers and state officials asked the justices to decide the case anyway.

Trinity Lutheran runs a preschool and daycare center.

Missouri’s constitution bars “any church, sect or denomination of religion” from receiving state money, language that goes further than the Constitution’s First Amendment separation of church and state requirement.

Trinity Lutheran’s legal effort is being spearheaded by the Alliance Defending Freedom conservative Christian legal activist group, which contends that Missouri’s policy violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of free exercise of religion and equal protection under the law.

In court papers, the state said the ban did not impose a burden on the church’s exercise of religion.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the advocacy group Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, which backed the state’s ban, asked the justices to drop the case, saying it is now moot following Greitens’ policy reversal.

A victory at the Supreme Court for Trinity Lutheran could help religious organizations nationwide win public dollars for certain purposes, such as health and safety. It also could buttress the case for using taxpayer money for vouchers to help pay for children to attend religious schools rather than public schools in “school choice” programs advocated by conservatives.

Three-quarters of the U.S. states have provisions similar to Missouri’s barring funding for religious entities.

Trinity Lutheran sued in federal court in 2012. The St. Louis-based 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2015 upheld a trial court’s dismissal of the suit, and the church appealed to the Supreme Court.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; additional reporting by Andrew Chung; editing by Will Dunham)

Civil liberties groups sue U.S., seek details on travel ban

Demonstrators participate in a protest by the Yemeni community against U.S. President Donald Trump's travel ban in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., February 2, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

By Scott Malone

BOSTON (Reuters) – Civil liberties groups on Wednesday said they were filing a series of lawsuits against the U.S. government seeking details on how federal agencies enforced President Donald Trump’s ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries.

The lawsuits were filed by local chapters of the American Civil Liberties Union against U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Homeland Security and cover their operations in 14 cities stretching from Portland, Maine, to San Diego.

The suits are an attempt to enforce requests filed under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) just days after Trump signed his first executive order limiting travel.

That Jan. 27 order, intended to fulfill a campaign promise to take a tough stance on immigration, first temporarily barred travelers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The order, which also temporarily barred refugees, led to a weekend of chaos at U.S. airports with travelers barred from entering the country upon landing while thousands of people turned out to protest the measures.

A federal judge ordered a halt to enforcement of that ban and Trump followed up in March with a less-sweeping order that did not limit travelers from Iraq, but which has also been challenged in courts. Opponents said the orders violated the U.S. constitution’s prohibitions on religious discrimination, citing Trump’s campaign promises to impose a “Muslim ban.”

The Trump administration said the restrictions are legal and are necessary to protect U.S. national security.

The suits, filed in federal courts, seek disclosure of how many people have been detained or subjected to additional screening since the first executive order as well as the guidance that was provided to DHS staff about how to enforce the order.

“Customs and Border Protection has a long, rich history of ignoring its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act and so these lawsuits are an effort to enforce its obligations,” said Zachary Heiden, legal director at the ACLU of Maine, in a phone interview. He noted that the ACLU filed its FOIA requests for information on Feb. 2.

Officials at CBP and DHS did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the suits.

In addition to Portland and San Diego, the suits cover CBP operations in Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Tucson, Miami and Tampa. One suit filed in Florida covers the two cities in that state.

(Reporting by Scott Malone, editing by G Crosse)

U.S. appeals to higher court over ruling against Trump’s revised travel ban

Demonstrators rally against the Trump administration's new ban against travelers from six Muslim-majority nations, outside of the White House. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

By Mica Rosenberg

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. government took the legal battle over President Donald Trump’s travel ban to a higher court on Friday, saying it would appeal against a federal judge’s decision that struck down parts of the ban on the day it was set to go into effect.

The Department of Justice said in a court filing it would appeal against a ruling by U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang in Maryland to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia.

On Thursday, Chuang issued an emergency halt to the portion of Trump’s March 6 executive order temporarily banning the entry of travelers from six Muslim-majority countries. He left in place the section of the order that barred the entry of refugees to the United States for four months.

Another federal judge in Hawaii struck down both sections of the ban in a broader court ruling that prevented Trump’s order from moving forward.

In Washington state, where the ban is also being challenged, U.S. District Court Judge James Robart put a stay on proceedings for as long as the Hawaii court’s nationwide temporary restraining order remained in place, to “conserve resources” and avoid inconsistent and duplicate rulings.

The decisions came in response to lawsuits brought by states’ attorneys general in Hawaii and refugee resettlement agencies in Maryland who were represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Immigration Law Center.

Detractors argue the ban discriminated against Muslims in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of religious freedom. Trump says the measure is necessary for national security to protect the country from terrorist attacks.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told a media briefing the government would “vigorously defend this executive order” and appeal against the “flawed rulings.”

The Department of Justice filed a motion late on Friday night seeking clarification of Hawaii’s ruling before appealing to the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

The 9th Circuit court last month upheld a decision by Judge Robart that halted an original, more sweeping travel ban signed by the President on Jan. 27 in response to a lawsuit filed by Washington state.

The new executive order was reissued with the intention of overcoming the legal concerns.

Trump has vowed to take the fight all the way to U.S. Supreme Court.

The 4th Circuit is known as a more conservative court compared to the 9th Circuit, said Buzz Frahn, an attorney at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett who has been tracking the litigation nationwide.

“The government is probably thinking that the 4th Circuit … would lend a friendlier ear to its arguments,” he said.

Judges have said they were willing to look behind the text of the order, which does not mention Islam, to probe the motivation for enacting the ban, Frahn said. Trump promised during the election campaign to ban Muslims from entering the United States.

The U.S. Supreme Court is currently split 4-4 between liberals and conservatives, with Trump’s pick for the high court – appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch – still awaiting confirmation.

Hans von Spakovsky, from the Washington D.C.-based Heritage Foundation, said the Department of Justice might want to time their appeals to reach the Supreme Court after Gorsuch is confirmed. He said the court would be likely to hear the case.

“They will take it because of its national importance,” Spakovsky said.

(Reporting by Mica Rosenberg in New York; Additional reporting by Kristina Cooke in San Francisco; Editing by Sue Horton, Mary Milliken and Paul Tait)

U.S. civil liberties group, ACLU, seeks to tap anti-Trump energy

By Joseph Ax

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The American Civil Liberties Union is launching what it bills as the first grassroots mobilization effort in its nearly 100-year history, as it seeks to harness a surge of energy among left-leaning activists since the November election of Republican Donald Trump as U.S. president.

The campaign, known as PeoplePower, kicks off on Saturday with a town hall-style event in Miami featuring “resistance training” that will be streamed live at more than 2,300 local gatherings nationwide.

It will focus on free speech, reproductive rights and immigration and include presentations from legal experts, ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero and “Top Chef” television star Padma Lakshmi.

Membership in the civil rights organization, which was founded in 1920, has tripled to more than 1 million since Trump’s election, the group says.

As activists have marched in streets, demonstrated at airports and confronted U.S. lawmakers regularly since election day, progressive groups like MoveOn and the newly formed Indivisible have sought ways to translate that frustration into local action.

That is the idea behind PeoplePower, which represents a major strategic shift for an organization that has traditionally focused on courtroom litigation, Romero said in a phone interview on Friday. Approximately 135,000 people have signed up for the campaign.

“Before, our membership was largely older and much smaller,” he said. “Our members would provide us with money so we could file the cases and do the advocacy. What’s clear with the Trump election is that our new members are engaged and want to be deployed.”

For example, the Miami event will encourage individuals to engage local officials in conversations about immigrant policies in their town or city. The ACLU has prepared “model” ordinances ensuring the protection of immigrant rights that supporters can press legislators to adopt, part of a campaign to create “freedom cities,” according to ACLU political director Faiz Shakir.

Suggested tactics, like the use of text messages as a mass mobilization tool, will mirror some of those employed by the insurgent presidential campaign of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, who mounted a surprisingly robust challenge to Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination.

“It’s completely unprecedented,” Romero said of the response since Trump’s victory. “People are wide awake right now and have been since the night of the election.”

(Editing by Matthew Lewis)

Trump’s transgender move puts spotlight on Supreme Court case

FILE PHOTO - A bathroom sign welcomes both genders at the Cacao Cinnamon coffee shop in Durham, North Carolina, United States on May 3, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake/File Photo

By Lawrence Hurley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration’s move on Wednesday to rescind guidance allowing transgender students to use the bathrooms of their choice has raised the stakes for an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case that could deliver a landmark decision on the issue.

The eight justices are due to hear oral arguments on March 28 on whether the Gloucester County School Board in Virginia can block Gavin Grimm, a female-born transgender high school student, from using the boys’ bathroom. A ruling is due by the end of June.

A key question in the case is whether a federal law, known as Title IX, which bars sex discrimination in education, covers transgender students. The Education Department under Democratic President Barack Obama said in guidance to public schools last May that it does, but the Republican Trump administration withdrew that finding on Wednesday.

The high court on Thursday asked the lawyers involved to file letters by March 1 giving their views on how the Trump action should affect consideration of the case.

Lawyers for Grimm say that the definition of sex discrimination in Title IX is broad and includes gender identity. The school board maintains that the law was enacted purely to address “physiological distinctions between men and women.”

If the Supreme Court rules that Title IX protects transgender students, the decision would become the law of the land, binding the Trump administration and the states.

“This is an incredibly urgent issue for Gavin and these other kids across the country,” said Joshua Block, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) who represents Grimm.

The Trump administration’s announcement “only underscores the need for the Supreme Court to bring some clarity here,” he added.

The administration on Wednesday did not offer its own interpretation of Title IX, with the Justice Department telling the court only that it plans to “consider further and more completely the legal issues involved.”

The administration is not directly involved in the case.

Lawyers for both Grimm and the Gloucester County School Board have urged the court to decide whether Title IX applies to transgender students rather than taking a narrower approach by sending the case back to a lower court.

In a court filing on Thursday, the ACLU said that, regardless of the administration’s position, the court “can – and should – resolve the underlying question of whether the Board’s policy violates Title IX.”

The school board’s lawyers made similar comments in their most recent court filing, saying that the meaning of the federal law is “plain and may be resolved as a matter of straightforward interpretation.”

But the court could take a more cautious approach and send the case back to the Richmond, Virginia-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. That court’s April 2016 ruling in favor of Grimm relied on the Obama administration’s interpretation of the law.

Kyle Duncan, a lawyer representing the school board, said the court must at a minimum throw out the appeals court decision because “the entire basis for that opinion” was the no-longer extant Obama administration interpretation.

JUSTICE KENNEDY: PIVOTAL VOTE?

With the eight-justice court likely to be closely divided, Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, conservative appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch, could end up casting the deciding vote if he is confirmed by the U.S. Senate in time. Otherwise, the court, which is divided equally between liberals and conservatives, could split 4-4, which would set no nationwide legal precedent.

Clues as to how the high court could rule can be gleaned from its decision last August to temporarily block the appeals court decision in Grimm’s case from going into effect. That emergency request from the school board did not require the justices to decide the merits of the case.

The vote in favor of the school board was 5-3, with Justice Stephen Breyer, a liberal, joining the four conservative justices. Breyer made clear in a statement at the time that his vote would not dictate how he would approach the case if the court took the issue up.

That decision indicated that the court is likely to be closely divided at oral argument. Grimm’s hopes may rest in Justice Anthony Kennedy, a conservative who voted against Grimm last summer but has sometimes sided with liberals in major cases, including several on gay rights.

But even lawyers closely following the case are not sure which way Kennedy could go.

“If I could predict that, I would be down in the casino,” said Gary McCaleb, a lawyer with conservative Christian legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, which backs the school board.

For graphic on transgender rights and “bathroom bills”, click: http://tmsnrt.rs/2l529J9

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; editing by Noeleen Walder and Jonathan Oatis)

Lawsuit claims Trump travel ban discriminates against Muslims

Protest of Donald Trump's travel ban

(Reuters) – The American Civil Liberties Union accused the Trump administration in a lawsuit filed on Thursday of violating the religious freedom of some nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries who have been barred from entering the United States.

The ACLU filed the lawsuit in federal court in the Northern District of California on behalf of three student visa holders, including one Yemeni who left the United States and is unable to come back, according to court documents.

The lawsuit is a proposed class-action brought on behalf of nationals who are living or have lived in the United States and are originally from the Muslim-majority nations whose citizens President Donald Trump has temporarily banned from entering the United States, with some exceptions.

The suit is the latest in a series of legal actions challenging the executive order that was issued last Friday. Federal judges in several states have placed limits on the order.

The order set off protests over the weekend at several major airports as immigration and customs officials struggled to interpret the new rules.

The plaintiffs and the members of the class “fear that, in the event they attempt to enter or re-enter the United States, they will be denied permission to do so,” the lawsuit said.

It accuses Trump and his administration of violating the free speech, religious freedom and due process rights of those affected by the order, and says it is an attempt to fulfill a campaign promise made by Trump to ban Muslims from entering the United States.

“Senior advisers to defendant Trump have engaged in anti-Muslim rhetoric that provides additional support for the notion that the executive order was prompted by animus toward Islam and Muslims,” the suit said.

Department of Justice officials could not be reached for comment late on Thursday.

The ACLU asked the court to rule that the executive order violates the rights of the students and class members and to order the administration not to enforce the travel ban, according to the suit.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis and Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Sandra Maler, Robert Birsel and Kevin Liffey)

ACLU and Kentucky’s only abortion clinic sue over ultrasound law

By Steve Bittenbender

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Reuters) – The American Civil Liberties Union sued Kentucky state officials on Monday to block a new law that requires women seeking an abortion to first undergo an ultrasound and hear a description of the embryo or fetus.

ACLU lawyers filed the lawsuit in federal court in Louisville on behalf of EMW Women’s Surgical Center, which the lawsuit said is the sole licensed abortion facility in Kentucky.

The requirement violates the speech rights of doctors and patients by forcing them to deliver and listen to a government-mandated message, the lawsuit argues. The surgical center is asking for a temporary restraining order and a permanent declaration that the law is unconstitutional.

The law is part of a renewed effort by abortion opponents nationwide to restrict the procedure. It was passed on Saturday by the Kentucky General Assembly, where Republicans swept to power after taking the state House for the first time in nearly a century, and signed on Monday by Governor Matt Bevin, also a Republican.

Bevin, in a statement on Monday, defended the law and several other recently passed measures as representing a new day for Kentucky. He said the measures would “protect our most vulnerable.”

The law requires a physician or qualified technician to perform the ultrasound and position the screen so the woman may view the images. The medical staff will also be required to describe what the images show, including the size of the fetus and any organs or appendages visible.

It does not contain exceptions for women who are facing medical complications or are victims of rape or incest. Lawmakers inserted an emergency clause allowing it to take effect immediately upon Bevin’s signature.

The lawsuit accuses lawmakers of “forcibly co-opting and perverting the informed consent process.”

While the bill received overwhelming support in both chambers of Kentucky’s legislature, even some of its supporters questioned whether the state risked a lawsuit.

Some 25 states have laws regarding ultrasounds and abortions, but only three states require medical staff to display and describe the images, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-profit group focusing on health issues.

Republicans have acted swiftly in their first week with majorities in the Kentucky legislature. Other measures they passed include prohibiting abortions after a pregnancy has reached 20 weeks, making Kentucky the 27th “right-to-work” state and allowing the governor to overhaul the University of Louisville’s board of trustees.

(Reporting by Steve Bittenbender; Editing by David Ingram and Lisa Shumaker)

Kansas, ACLU reach temporary agreement on voter ID

Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State

(Recasts to show that judge has canceled contempt of court hearing scheduled for Friday, adds comment by Kansas secretary of state)

Sept 29 (Reuters) – The Kansas Secretary of State and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have reached a temporary agreement over the state’s voter registration laws, keeping Kansas’ chief elections officer from a contempt of court hearing, according to court documents filed on Thursday.

The deal between Secretary of State Kris Kobach and the ACLU comes six weeks before the U.S. presidential election.

The two sides have been at odds over a Kansas law requiring people to prove American citizenship if they want to register to vote while applying for a driver’s license. Critics say this requirement disenfranchises voters, especially minorities.

The deal will allow people who registered at motor vehicle offices or with a federal form without providing citizenship documents to vote in the Nov. 8 election with a standard ballot, rather than be forced to use a provisional one, the ACLU and Kobach said in a status report filed on Thursday.

Kobach will also clarify his office’s website to help voters find information more easily, according to the report filed to U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson.

Robinson had ordered Kobach, a Republican, to explain by Thursday why he should not be held in contempt for failing to obey a federal order issued in May.

That order required him to register people who applied to vote at motor vehicle offices or with a federal form without proof of citizenship.

Robinson canceled the contempt hearing scheduled for Friday, according to her own court filing, citing the ACLU and Kobach’s agreement.

“Our case is ongoing, but this interim agreement is a critical victory for Kansans who want to vote in the November election. It is a shame that voters had to fight so hard to get Kris Kobach to do his job,” ACLU attorney Orion Danjuma said in a statement.

Kobach said he was pleased an agreement had been reached, but criticized the ACLU.

“The ACLU’s argument was weak at best. However, at this point the preparations for the November 8, 2016, general election must proceed with rules established to ensure the efficient administration of the election,” he said in a statement.

Kansas’ law, among the strictest voter identification statutes in the country, is defended by Republicans who say the rules are meant to prevent voter fraud.

On Tuesday, a Kansas state judge issued a separate ruling extending voting rights through the Nov. 8 election of about 17,500 people who registered to vote at motor vehicle offices.

(Reporting by Timothy Mclaughlin in Chicago; Editing by Matthew
Lewis)