Archive for Monday, December 31, 2012

New House Speaker Merrick refuses Kansas Supreme Court chief justice’s request to address Legislature

December 31, 2012


— House Speaker Ray Merrick has turned down a request from Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nuss to address the 2013 Legislature.

"It's just another thing to take up time," Merrick said. "I just think it's time that could be put to better use on other things."

Merrick asked Nuss to put his report in writing.

But by Monday, Merrick was softening his comments. On Twitter, Merrick said, "We are definitely interested in hearing from our colleagues (from the court) we just requested a different format from last year." He said that the House Clerk's Office said that since 1975 there have been only 13 years in which the chief justice delivered a speech to the Legislature.

Merrick, a conservative Republican from Stilwell, was chosen by his GOP colleagues to be the House speaker for the next two years. Nuss was appointed to the Kansas Supreme Court by Republican Gov. Bill Graves.

The top House Democrat said Merrick's decision is a sign of growing animosity between the GOP and the courts.

"Many right-wing Republicans don't view the judiciary as a co-equal branch of government," said House Minority Leader Paul Davis, of Lawrence. "It doesn't surprise me that the incoming legislative leadership has decided not to let them be heard."

Merrick said he made his decision about Nuss speaking to legislators after discussing it with new Senate President Susan Wagle, a Wichita Republican. He said he had received complaints from individuals who felt that the court address was a "gigantic waste of time."

"People are going read into it whatever they want to read into it," Merrick said. "I can't prevent that."

Nuss wrote a letter to court employees informing them of Merrick's decision and saying the annual report would be put in writing. Nuss also is looking at other options for presenting the judicial update to legislators in person.

Nuss has presented the material to legislators each of the past two years.

The relationship between the courts and the Legislature has been tested in recent years over funding. During the 2012 session, Nuss closed the courts for a day after legislators were slow to act on the state budget. Some legislators said Nuss could have prevented the closure if he would have used funds available in other court accounts not financed by state revenues.

A 2005 ruling by the Supreme Court regarding school spending resulted in the Legislature increasing education funding by nearly $1 billion. It has prompted several attempts in the House to pass a constitutional amendment to state that only the Legislature and not the courts or executive branch could appropriate money.

Legislators and some interest groups have suggested this session will include renewed efforts to change the way judicial appointments are made.


formerfarmer 5 years, 5 months ago

What else would Nuss expect from a Brownback legislature; they need only consider what is on their own narrow minds.

And no, I am not a Democrat, just a lifelong Republican embarrassed by this regime.

Grump 5 years, 5 months ago

Another lifelong Republican here embarrassed by this regime.

Nuss is no liberal. Republicans continue to eat their own.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 5 years, 5 months ago

Way to Go Kansas GOP. Isolate yourselves a little more. Bad enough you try to suppress input from women and minorities but Kansas Supreme Court Judges too? Why Not?God's Law Trumps Constitutional Law according to you. As Long as we have Sam to hand down the Laws From the Mount, Why have a Judicial Branch of Government at all? The Republicans have a De Facto One party system here in Kansas. They(Kansas GOP) will own the Outcome of Brownback's Experiment Lock, Stock and Barrel.

gccs14r 5 years, 5 months ago

I don't think the TPers should get to ride (drag down) the coattails of the GOP. They should have to stand on their own (de)merits as the independent Third Party they are, and try to create a governing coalition with one of the other parties in the Legislature/Congress.

Bob Forer 5 years, 5 months ago

Now that's what I call arrogance--to refuse a reasonable request from the Chief Justice of the Kansas Supreme Court. It borders on the uncivil.

Kathy Theis-Getto 5 years, 5 months ago

Not only a reasonable request, but a past practice! We are doomed.

verity 5 years, 5 months ago

Borders on the uncivil? They crossed that border a long time ago.

JackMcKee 5 years, 5 months ago

Time to spend on things like Sharia law and questioning the birthplace of Obama? These clowns have no shame.

Liberty275 5 years, 5 months ago

"Many right-wing Republicans don't view the judiciary as a co-equal branch of government," said House Minority Leader Paul Davis"

Not once in almost 50 years have I met a republican that said, implied, or otherwise made me think they do not recognize the judicial as an equal branch of government. Is Mr Davis lying or can someone show an example of what he is talking about?

Thomas Bryce Jr. 5 years, 5 months ago

Merrick said that individuals he did not identify but, we could assume he meant fellow Legislators,felt the Chief Justices Address was "a gigantic waste of time". Pretty strong hint that their(Judicial Branch) opinion is not wanted. How is that equal consideration and participation as one of the three Branches?

Liberty275 5 years, 5 months ago

Come on. You know he meant that allowing the justice to address the legislature was a waste of time. I agree. What's he going to say? Is he going to tell the legislature what he thinks is illegal even before a law is written?

Since you seem to be in favor of this speech, how about we allow a legislator come speak at the judge's first hearing of the year. Are you as OK with a legislator speaking in a court case where he is otherwise uninvolved? It's the same thing.

As for the legislature wanting the opinion of the justice, I'm not sure any such opinion should be allowed to be made in a formal fashion. They are separate branches for a reason.

Hardhawk1 5 years, 5 months ago

Liberty: The Chief Justice is the top administrative officer of the Judicial Branch. He has an obligation to report annually on the State of the Judiciary in Kansas. That is what he is attempting to do. It has zero to do with case decisions and everything to do with budget, case loads, allocating judicial branch resources in the most efficient manner, etc. he is merely trying to perform his duty and make the annual report. Not all Chief Justices over the years have made the report in person, but Chief Justice Nuss prefers to give the report in person. Is an hour or less really that big of an annoyance to the legislature? It is really like the legislature telling the Governor not to bother with the State of the State address, but to merely submit it in writing.

Liberty275 5 years, 5 months ago

You stated the situation eloquently and didn't resort to telling us for the 1,000th time how the evil teapublicans were trying to take over the world.

question4u 5 years, 5 months ago

Kansas resembles the American ideal less each day. Third World politics have taken a stanglehold on the state, and the stifling of divergent opinions and ideas is only to be expected.

If the radical right's extremist agenda had any real hope of leading to general prosperity, then why would there be such paranoia about dissenting ideas? Why would there be a need to purge state government of all moderate voices? Why would there be a need to keep educators off a panel on efficiency in education? Why would there be a need to prevent the Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice from speaking before the Legislature?

Are there really Kansans who are proud that the state is going down this path? Do they really think that American ideals are so contemptible that this kind of extremism is preferable?

verity 5 years, 5 months ago

Apparently, and sadly, yes.

You make a very good point---why are they feeling so threatened that they can't even allow other views to be presented and considered?

MerriAnnie Smith 5 years, 5 months ago

I think I understand why they're afraid to allow other views to be heard. They are well aware that the Republican Party, nationwide, is losing ground because of Tea Party politics - and they are Tea Party politicians.

If they keep the voices of reason muted they can actually succeed in pulling the wool over a lot of "unaware" Kansans - people whose sole understanding of politics and government consists of recognizing an R after a name. This state values the Tea Party mentality - and they do so because they don't allow outside thoughts to enter their minds. That's why muting the sound of reason works here in Kansas.

chootspa 5 years, 5 months ago

Because cognitive dissonance is painful.

verity 5 years, 5 months ago

They have enough time to waste on all sorts of other crap, but not to listen to the Chief Justice of the Kansas Supreme Court?

Really, how much lower can the Reactionary Obstructionists go? Just when I can't imagine anything worse, they manage to top their previous idiocity and arrogance.

They are totally pathetic, undemocratic, unAmerican and self-reverental. And Kansas elected them.

The Kansas Supreme Court is their enemy because they reach sane and legal opinions, not bowing to the ROs and their obsession with circumventing the democratic process.

riverdrifter 5 years, 5 months ago

Teabaggers rolling in their own bio-solids and then sniffing themselves. They love that aroma.

Katara 5 years, 5 months ago

Wow. That is just plain ol' rude. Denying the request and then coming out publicly to state that you think a speech from the KS Supreme Court Chief Justice is a waste of time. What utter disrespect these faux conservatives show to the other branches of government.

MerriAnnie Smith 5 years, 5 months ago

It's going to take all the publicity our media can give our legislature and governor to have any hope of opening the eyes of those who voted these people in.

Every time they do something this egregious, make sure it's reported. And of course if the moderates do anything egregious, report that, too. Then the voters can see the vast difference in how far off the wall the Far Right is compared to the moderates and far left.

These loons make the news all the time for the outrageous things they do - and their behavior often hurts Kansas citizens.

We already know they don't care who they hurt. They have an agenda set out by the Koch Boys and Brownback and they will bulldoze anybody who tries to take their focus off that agenda. Sorry, Judge. You obviously don't have the stomach for the Far Right agenda, so you're now welcome. Thanks for trying.

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 5 months ago

The one party Teapublican Paradise of Kansas doesn't own the judiciary yet. That annoys them. Therefore they will try to marginalize it as much as they can. Give them time. They will take the state Constitution and use it for toilet paper.

MerriAnnie Smith 5 years, 5 months ago

Brownback is also working on loading the judiciary during his two terms. Kansas has a bleak future. His appointments to the bench will have long-lasting effects.

George Brenner 5 years, 5 months ago

The right wing extremists currently running , and ruining, our state are their own worst enemies, but I have no doubt that they could roll back a century of progress before their time is up. The future of Kansas looks mighty bleak to me. Just glad I'm not trying to raise a family here.

kernal 5 years, 5 months ago

Kansans need to smarten up and pay attention to what's going down instead of listening to tea party rhetoric.

lunacydetector 5 years, 5 months ago

wasn't bill graves a republican in name only?

average 5 years, 5 months ago

Gov. Brownback said, soon after he was elected, that he believed that he was the first conservative governor in Kansas history. By his (and current) definitions of conservative, that's entirely correct.

Paul R Getto 5 years, 5 months ago

Sam and his minions... ....have no need for the Courts. They already have their god for a judge, Muscular jesus for a prosecutor, and Sam himself as the executioner.

rtwngr 5 years, 5 months ago

If you're planning to leave, I hear California, Illinois, and New York are very liberal and you can get all of the handouts you want there. May I help you pack?

rtwngr 5 years, 5 months ago

For years we have had nothing but a progressive, liberal agenda driven by the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of this state. Well, the pendulum has swung the other way, now. Everything you libs say Brownback is going to wreck at the state level, we right wing, teapubs, teabaggers, fascist, nazi, jackbooted, extremists think Obama is going to wreck at the Federal level. We're soon going to see which goes first.

Brian Laird 5 years, 5 months ago

Wow.. If you actually believe that what we have had for the previous decades in KS is a progressive liberal agenda then you are seriously delusional.

Liberty275 5 years, 5 months ago

What is there to defend? The legislature can decide if they receive the judiciary report by paper or by a speech. They chose paper.

Really, I don't see why something as goofy as this has your undergarments in such a twist.

Kathy Theis-Getto 5 years, 5 months ago

There will come a time, maybe sooner than you think, that this pompous legislature will learn the veto power of the courts.

Liberty275 5 years, 5 months ago

Well, yeah. That's how it works except it isn't called a veto, it's called a ruling. Brownback does the veto thing.

I have nothing against the judicial system. It is their job to decide if legislation is constitutional. The more they rebuke the legislature, the better, in my opinion.

Kathy Theis-Getto 5 years, 5 months ago

Sigh.... My dear Liberty, how do you survive living in that tunnel of yours? Look up judicial powers in your spare time.

The reason people should be upset is the legislature is thumbing its nose at the judiciary. It shows a blatent disregard for our Constitution, the separations of power and the checks and balances that are in place. How can they possibly have our best interests in all of their actions? It is unprofessional, unscrupulous and contemptuous behavior.

Liberty275 5 years, 5 months ago

"the legislature is thumbing its nose at the judiciary"

I don't think that is the case, but even if it was, why is that a problem?

"t shows a blatent disregard for our Constitution"

Is there something in the constitution that calls for the legislature to allow the chief justice to speak before the house? If it is in the constitution, and it is indeed being disregarded, then you all have a point. So what part of the Kansas constitution is being blatantly disregarded?

Hardhawk1 gave an informative answer, You are just following the leftist script of false outrage over what appears to be a perfectly legal and ethical decision made by people you hate simply because you hate them.

Liberty275 5 years, 5 months ago

Any time a law is ruled unconstitutional by the SCOK or the SCOTUS, I'll be the one cheering the loudest. Don't mistake my disagreement concerning this matter as an indication I'm a fan of the legislature, republicans or more laws.

You know better.

LogicMan 5 years, 5 months ago

Does the legislative branch normally give an in-person, formal "address" to the judiciary branch?

Turnabout is fairplay.

ThePilgrim 5 years, 5 months ago

"Co-equal branches of government"? Brownback doesn't see the legislature or the judiciary as co-equal branches with the Executive branch either.

Trumbull 5 years, 5 months ago

"It's just another thing to take up time," Merrick said. "I just think it's time that could be put to better use on other things."

This just does not sound very professional. I am thankful for even a Republican judiciary. This is the one branch of government that can save us from falling into something like fascism. The founding fathers put in a pretty good check and balance.

Paul R Getto 5 years, 5 months ago

There will be time for strippers and banning abortion.

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