08 June 2015

It Is Official, Kansas Is Clinically Insane

Sam Brownback has had a number of run-ins with the Kansas courts, and now he is threatening to completely defund Kansas courts if they continue to rule against him:
The fight between Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas and the state’s judicial branch has escalated, with the governor last week signing into law a bill that could strip state courts of their funding.

The measure, at the end of a lengthy bill that allocated money for the judiciary this year, stipulates that if a state court strikes down a 2014 law that removed some powers from the State Supreme Court, the judiciary will lose its funding.

The 2014 law took the authority to appoint chief judges for the district courts away from the Supreme Court and gave it to the district courts themselves. It also deprived the state’s highest court of the right to set district court budgets. Critics said the law was an attempt by Mr. Brownback, a Republican, to stack the district courts with judges who may be more favorable to his policies.


But in passing a separate budget bill to keep the third branch of government from shutting down, Republican lawmakers took the opportunity to insert language that would shield the 2014 law.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Matthew Menendez, counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice in New York, which is helping to represent a Kansas judge who is challenging the constitutionality of the 2014 law. “It seems pretty clear that these mechanisms have been an effort by the governor and the Legislature to try and get a court system that is more in line with their philosophy.”

Richard E. Levy, a constitutional law professor at the University of Kansas, likened the measure in the judiciary budget bill to Congress’s passing a law outlawing abortion and then telling the judicial branch that it will lose its funding if it finds the law unconstitutional.

“That kind of threat to the independence of the judiciary strikes me as invalid under the separation of powers principle,” Mr. Levy said in an interview on Friday.
Considering the news coming out of Turkey (more on that later), I find it kind of ironic that Sam Brownback is doing his level best to use Recep Tayyip Erdo─čan's play book, which was just rejected by Turkish voters.

[on edit]

I may not have been completely clear: This bill would Completely Defund the Entire Kanasas State Court System, so basically, aside from traffic court, there would be no courts operating in the state.


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