September 17, 2014

As this article from MSNBC's Benjy Sarlin and Rachel Maddow in the clip above discussed, even if Democrat Chad Taylor is forced to remain on the ballot for Senate in Kansas, the polls aren't looking good for Pat Roberts:

A new survey by Public Policy Polling released Tuesday gave Orman a 41-34 lead over Roberts with Taylor garnering 6 percent of the vote and Libertarian Randall Betson getting 4 percent.

More trouble for GOP in Kansas Senate race:

In a troubling development for national Republicans, justices for the Kansas Supreme Court hinted that they may reverse a ruling by Secretary of State Kris Kobach to keep former Democratic Senate candidate Chad Taylor on the ballot despite Taylor’s attempts to remove himself from the race.

Republicans cringed earlier this month when Taylor dropped his bid against embattled GOP Senator Pat Roberts who barely fended off a primary challenge from a relatively weak tea party candidate this summer amid questions about his Kansas residency. That’s because Taylor’s exit cleared the way for independent Greg Orman to make a credible play for the seat. Kansas hasn’t elected a Democratic Senator since the 1930s and Orman, who has positioned himself as a non-ideological centrist, is considered the better match in the conservative-leaning state.

Orman has not said which party he will caucus with if he wins, but he previously ran in 2008 as a Democrat and supports immigration reform and the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, raising hopes among party officials that he would ultimately join their side.

Republicans enjoyed a nice chaser to go with Taylor’ exit, however, when Kobach ruled the next day that Taylor would remain on the ballot, potentially drawing support away from Orman.

And as they noted, Kobach's lawyer took a grilling from the Supreme Court this Tuesday: Kobach's Lawyer Beat Up By Kansas Supreme Court In Senate Race Case:

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach's refusal to remove Democratic Senate nominee Chad Taylor from the ballot came under harsh scrutiny Tuesday from the Kansas Supreme Court, with some of the justices openly wondering whether the Republican official was arbitrarily applying the law. [...]

Much of the oral arguments focused on a trove of previous withdrawal letters filed by Kobach's lawyers the day before the hearing. A number of the letters, some of which were accepted by the secretary's office, seemed to be largely in line with the letter filed by Taylor earlier this month. Some of them also had not been properly notarized, though they were still accepted by Kobach's office. The resulting questioning centered on how much discretion Kobach has in applying the law.

"It seems pretty loosey goosey. What are we to do with that?" Justice Dan Biles said to Kobach's lawyer Ed Greim. "It seems like the legislature put some requirements in the statute, and you guys are deciding whether you want comply or not on an ad hoc basis almost."

Taylor's lawyer, Pedro Irigonegaray, had argued earlier in the hearing that his client's letter was sufficient because he said he was withdrawing "pursuant to" the relevant state law.

During Greim's time before the court, after Biles said that Kobach's office seemed to be applying the law arbitrarily, Justice Carol Beier pressed Greim on whether Taylor need to be in "full" or "substantial" compliance with state law in order to be removed from the ballot.

"Does he have discretion to ignore the statute?" Beier asked, referring to Kobach.

Greim said Kobach didn't, but that he had discretion "to decide whether somebody substantially complied with it."

"That goes back to my colleague's original question," Beier said. "Is it your argument here today that the secretary should be satisfied with substantial compliance as opposed to full compliance?"

"The answer, Your Honor, is substantial compliance means that somebody has complied with the substance, with the key part of the statute, with the reason it's there, the legislative intent," Greim said. "Then yes."

"So substantial compliance is the standard that should be used by this court?" Beier said. "As opposed to to-the-letter full compliance?"

"Well, that depends on the specific part of the law that we're talking about," Greim said.

"He has discretion on which parts of the law he has to comply with?" Beier said. "Does the secretary have the discretion to decide which parts of the law must be compiled with and which can be dismissed?"

"He has discretion to say whether someone has declared that they are incapable or not," Greim said.

"There are at least four or five letters of the letters you submitted without any kind of acknowledgement," Beier said. "Is he also vested with discretion to ignore that aspect?"

The exchange was indicative of the justices' overall apparent skepticism about Kobach's arguments, based on their interrogation of Greim. Irigonegaray was also faced with some tough questions, particularly on the lack of any explicit language from Taylor that he was incapable of serving, but Greim was questioned for a substantially longer time by the court.


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