Archive for Thursday, July 14, 2005

Power balance

July 14, 2005

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To the editor:

I'm surprised by the strange arguments about what power the Kansas Supreme Court has over the Kansas Legislature. As with the U.S. government, Kansas has a system of checks and balances, designed so that no one branch of government can become despotic and/or tyrannical.

The governor can propose legislation, but can't pass it without legislative action. The legislature can pass legislation, but the governor can veto it. The Supreme Court can't pass legislation, but they can determine whether or not legislation passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor conforms to our state Constitution.

The Kansas Supreme Court didn't legislate an amount for school funding. The Legislature, a long time ago, enacted a constitutional provision that ordered all Kansas students be provided with equal educational opportunity. The Supreme Court didn't arbitrarily pick a number and say, "here's what we want you to spend for schools." The Supreme Court merely told the Legislature that the school funding plan they had enacted did not do that because it didn't pay out the funds equally or fairly. Based on the current plan, the court provided an amount that would rectify the imbalance.

Those who would strip the Supreme Court of its power to protect us from the other two branches of government would endanger us all. Without the Supreme Court checking the constitutionality of legislation, the Legislature could ban free speech or legislate a state religion. We can't let right-wingers use this as subterfuge to further endanger our civil and constitutional rights.

Mike Cuenca,

Lawrence

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