Archive for Sunday, September 1, 2013

Stegall urged ‘forcible resistance’ to Schiavo court ruling that removed life support

September 1, 2013


— In 2005, Caleb Stegall, who Gov. Sam Brownback has nominated to the Kansas Court of Appeals, encouraged "forcible resistance" to try to save the life of Terri Schiavo, the brain-damaged Florida woman who had been at the center of a national debate over the right to die.

After the courts ordered removal of Terri Schiavo's life support, Stegall — an attorney who was then editor of The New Pantagruel, an online Christian magazine — and his colleagues at the magazine issued an editorial statement:

"It now appears that all legal recourse to save Terri’s life has failed. As Terri’s family and millions of people know, the State is wrong. There is a higher law. If last-ditch efforts in the Florida Legislature and the United States Congress also fail, and the administration of Governor Jeb Bush fails in its duty to uphold the higher law, those closest to Terri—her family, friends, and members of their communities of care—are morally free to contemplate and take extra-legal action as they deem it necessary to save Terri’s life, up to and including forcible resistance to the State’s coercive and unjust implementation of Terri’s death by starvation," the statement said.

Stegall, 41, has been thrust into the political spotlight as Brownback's first pick for the state Court of Appeals under a new law that removed a nominating commission from the selection process.

Brownback's office has declined to let the press ask questions of Stegall. A request for comment from the governor's office regarding the Schiavo statement was not immediately answered.

Stegall has submitted hundreds of pages of documents about himself to Brownback's office and a Senate committee that will hold a hearing Tuesday on his nomination.

The submitted information shows Stegall as a conservative, Christian, abortion opponent and an outspoken critic of liberalism and what he sees as the increasing influence of modern culture. The statement about Schiavo, who died about two weeks after it was published, was not included in those documents.

The information that Stegall submitted in support of his nomination includes a wide variety of background material underscoring his conservative philosophy, including a 2004 article in the New York Times that wrote about Stegall as part of a group of new thinkers who were trying to redefine the conservative movement. Over the years, Stegall has outlined his conservative views in a variety of other statements and actions, as well.

In 2008, when he was running for Jefferson County attorney, Stegall was general counsel for Americans for Prosperity, which advocates for cuts in taxes and government spending, and he served on the executive committee for Audubon of Kansas.

On the issue of abortion, Stegall said during a 2008 online chat with the Lawrence Journal-World, "I am pro-life and politically a federalist." Of the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion, he said, "On legal grounds, I believe Roe v Wade to be a weak decision and believe that the matter is best left to state control."

His nomination submission also includes a 54-page analysis critical of the school finance decision by the Kansas Supreme Court that forced the Legislature to increase funding to schools. Stegall wrote the analysis for the Kansas Policy Institute, a group often critical of public school funding. He concluded that Kansas needed to pass a constitutional amendment that put the Legislature in charge of determining what suitable funding of schools should be.

"Regardless of the specific constitutional proposals, it is incumbent upon the Legislature to address the matter constitutionally, as until that point the taxpayers of the state will be held hostage by a powerful special interest with constitutional carte blanche to spend with virtually no limit," he said.

In the spring of 2009, Stegall gave the commencement address to Veritas Christian School.

Stegall urged the students to try to experience truth and goodness wherever they find themselves and to resist the temptations of the world.

"Oh, they will tell you that their marches for progress and rights are daring, and that they are radical.

"Or they will tell you that their religious revivals are conservative, that they are the moral center.

"You will hear it all, but the truth is that for the most part, people are in the grips of a boring, lifeless ideology of personal fulfillment, choice and upward mobility. We live in a society of tourists, and if tourists have one thing in common it is this — that they are not at home."

Stegall told them of a personal story where he was representing former attorney general Phill Kline, who tried to prosecute clinics that provided abortions.

"At the crux of the case was whether laws restricting abortion could ever actually be enforced," Stegall said. He said arrayed against Kline "were the whole force of the abortion industry nationwide and virtually of the powers of the State Government," he said.

The proceedings were being followed on a national level. Stegall said he was up against eight or nine lawyers, some from New York "brought in to this troublesome little state in fly-over country to protect the abortion industry."

Stegall said he passed out his business card with a Perry, Kansas, address and "one of the big city lawyers turned to his colleague and said with more shock than condescension in his voice, 'Where the heck is Perry, Kansas?' Only he used more colorful language."

Stegall's appointment to the second highest court in Kansas has drawn fire from numerous critics for the process Brownback used.

Under a new law, which was pushed for by Brownback, Stegall and other conservative Republicans, the governor makes an appointment to the appeals court, subject to Senate confirmation. Under the former system, a nominating commission vetted and interviewed candidates and submitted three names for the governor to pick from. The names of those who applied were released to the public, but under the new system, Brownback has refused to divulge who applied for the vacancy.


SRWilson 7 months, 2 weeks ago

In order to get Stegall behind the bench, Brownback had to take a procedure that was open for all to see, and cloaked it in the utmost of secrecy and utterings of "No Comment." Brownback knew if he made his choices known and allowed them to come up for review, they would never see the light of day. Instead Brownback's cherry picked gets installed, and the citizens who are Brownback's employers only find out about it after the fact.

Sadly this behavior does not surprise me given their behavior in other states. On the subject of abortion this is very telling. In North Carolina, a very restrictive abortion bill was passed by the state legislature. The citizens only learned about it after it was revealed the bill was concealed in a bill on motorcycle safety.

In Texas the picture was a lot more "In Your Face." When their bill came up before the legislature, one lone wolf Wendy Davis successfully filibustered the measure. She spoke for 11 hours. Without eating. Without sitting. Without a bathroom break. Eleven hours. When the time to vote on the bill expired, the Republicans put up on the website that the measure had passed, despite the filibuster. When this was exposed in the media the record was changed to tell the truth, but not before thousands of screenshots of the fakery was saved. In spite of the heroics of Davis, Governor Perry shoved through another version of the bill at the 11th hour, which was of course passed by the Republican majority.

One would think that after they were handed their crushing defeat in 2012, members of the Republican party would have been repentant and at least a little more humble. Instead they have behaved like spoiled brats who, when told to stand in the corner, instead jump up and down and scream at you that you're being unfair and mean. It's long past time they get sent to their room with no TV, video games or internet.


JayhawkFan1985 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Rtwngr, you need to find a rush Limbaugh blog. If you hate lawrence so much, why poison our newspaper's blog with your bile? You must be a closet liberal. You'll come around, hopefully it will be before brownbackward cause Armageddon in Kansas.


7 months, 2 weeks ago

@rtwngr Hmmm..."tons of money"? Roughly $35K over 8 years averages to just over 4K per year. 35K is less than some people pay for a fashion statement SUV or truck. Further, you're saying that Dr. Tiller was not entitled to support the political process, aren't you. Is this something you truly believe? Now, compare $35K with the bottomless wallet provided to The Guv by those champions of small entrepreneurs in Wichita, The Kochs. which is more abhorrent, the roughly $35K Dr. Tiller donated over 8 years to Sebelius, or the millions provided to The Guv, et al, by the Koch family? I contend the latter.

Now, let's turn the discussion back to The Guv's selection (patronage) process and Caleb Stegall's history. Given his statements and evident philosophy, I pity anyone who appears before him who is also not a dyed in the wool ultra-conservative evangelical.

You also said "elections have consequences." I grant you that this is true, and many in Western Kansas are now realizing the mistake they made voting for Brownback simply because he had an (R) after his name.


Bob Forer 7 months, 2 weeks ago

His comments are enough to disqualify him from the bench, but with the right wing in control, he will probably be confirmed. They don't seem to give a damn about the rule of law if it involves one of their own.

If you don't believe in the rule of law, you don't deserve to be an American, and you certainly should not be serving in any branch of government.

It is amazing how the right wing is quick to toss out fundamental rules and concepts of American Democracy.


rtwngr 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Oh well, elections have consequences. Apparently the left wing of Lawrence is apoplectic regarding the way things are being run at the State House. Too bad. I didn't hear you crying when Sebelius made all of her left wing radical appointments. I didn't hear anyone say a word about the tons of money she received from George Tiller in Wichita. Her court appointees were so far to the left they made Sol Alinsky look like John Wayne.


Michael LoBurgio 7 months, 2 weeks ago

As GOP knows, the rules matter

The attack on Kansas’ judicial system is troubling. After all, the state’s courts, according to a national Chamber of Commerce study, ranked fifth in the nation on fairness to business in 2012.

This didn’t matter to the governor and the Legislature. They wanted Stegall and, more importantly, they wanted to permanently alter the rules to their benefit.

As the legendary (if felonious) Illinois Rep. Dan Rostenkowski once declared, “If you let me write procedure, and I let you write substance, I’ll screw you every time.”

In other words, structuring the rules determines the outcome.

Thus, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach looks at the already overwhelmingly Republican electorate and decides it’s not red enough. So he uses alleged voter fraud to propose registration rules to restrict ballot access for the poor, the young, the elderly and those, such as Hispanics, who are disproportionately unlikely to vote.


Michael LoBurgio 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Brownbacks Judge choice part of quest to control state govt

Judge choice part of quest to control state government.

Gov. Sam Brownback's choice for an open appellate court position was no surprise.

As expected, the governor nominated his chief counsel, Caleb Stegall, for a spot on the state's second highest court, the Kansas Court of Appeals.

It was just another predictable maneuver from an ultraconservative GOP administration intent on controlling every facet of state government.

Thanks to the support of the billionaire Koch brothers, whose efforts helped erase a moderate Republican influence in the Kansas Legislature that had provided some resistance, Brownback and his allies received an easier path to control of the judiciary and all branches of state government they sought as a way to forward an extreme ideology without checks and balances.


Michael LoBurgio 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Kansans For Fair Courts

Sam #Brownback's plan to politicize the Kansas judicial branch is dangerous to us all, but here is a good look at how it impacts Kansas women in particular. Kansans deserve a fair and impartial court system - it is a key tenet of our democracy. We had the votes to block the Brownback plan during the 2013 #ksleg session, but we must remain vigilant about this in 2014. Please share this video and help spread the word. Paul Davis


Slowponder 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Given that the votes are in line at the State Senate, the next stop for Mr. Stegall is a retention vote in four years. What are you going to do then?


Jean Robart 7 months, 3 weeks ago

I wish I hadn't voted in the last gubernatorial election as I did vote. But I couldn't handle the person running against him. This proves that the lesser of two evils is still evil.


homechanger 7 months, 3 weeks ago

This from the nominee:
The overwhelming moral sense I have when surveying the modern world is one of loss. A sense that what we have left behind in our affluence and mobility is a certain kind of Good that flourishes in rootedness and struggle—a way of being human that was always understood as the good life; a kind of self-provisioning that took place within a small network of interconnected social obligations, each to the other and all to a particular place, and to the customs and rites that naturally complimented that place. The spiritual order—both personal and social—of this good life is nourished on a veneration of children, work, craft, a sense of honor in commitments, and a common responsibility.

In place of this, modernity has given us the atomized individual, armed with a plethora of rights, making his way in a system of "opportunity" that requires the spiritual symbolization of society as a ladder to be climbed, which leaves a wake of personal disorder, the destruction of exploited people, places, and traditional communities, and loss of meaning on a massive scale.


chicago95 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Compliments to Mr. Rothschild for a well-researched story.


mikekt 7 months, 3 weeks ago

How is it that Stegall could put up such a show fight over disconnecting Terri Schaivo from infinit life support........ but be so quiet......I heard nothing in the press, out of him......when Brownback turned down Federal Monies for health care, for a conservatively estimated 58,000 Kansans who were not already at deaths final door ( to try and snatch back thru a mock moral crusade .......or force to hopelessly live on, as a machine kept alive bed vegetable, as Ms. Schaivo ) but who were just in need of basic health care, to avoid the human effects of ill healths' early arrival, in their own & their families lives .

Gee, what happens to the kids, if mommy or daddy dies early, from a disease that went to long ........unnoticed & untreated, .........due to lack of health care .........Healthcare not provided by the poor hatering, billionaire lovers that occupy Topeka ?

This guy would Yawn at an M1A1 Tank ........and Gawk at a nat; I.e., his perspective is all screwed up.....and he should sit on the Court of Appeals Bench ?........ Really ?

Now you know why Bownie won't let the press talk to him !?

Stegall might actually have to explain his own Hypocrisy, as a member of Brownbacks administration..........or maybe that Jesus or Brownback, had told him in a spiritual vision, to torment the poor, by sending them all to medical healthcare hell !!!

Stegall knows too much as a legal adviser to AFP and Brownback, to not be rewarded for his silence,......... with a judges job !


question4u 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Stegall: "You will hear it all, but the truth is that for the most part, people are in the grips of a boring, lifeless ideology of personal fulfillment, choice and upward mobility."

Welcome to Brownbackistan, the only place on earth where "personal fulfillment, choice and upward mobility" are bad.


toe 7 months, 3 weeks ago

All courts should be forcibly resisted when wrong. Easy choice.


yourworstnightmare 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Now we are getting glimpses of what Brownback is trying to hide.

Stegall states clearly that it is alright, even moral, to take extra legal action, including force, against laws with which one doesn't agree because of religious beliefs.

Stegall has like-minded compatriots in the fundamentalist islamic world including the Taliban.


dabbindan 7 months, 3 weeks ago

well, since most reasonable citizens of this country will agree that both the left and the right offer valuable contributions to the political and governing process in this country, a judge that is "an outspoken critic of liberalism" would be unwise to put on the bench.

it certainly would make a liberal who comes before him wonder if they could get justice....and as i last recall, we are all entitled to justice, whatever our political stripe.


racerx 7 months, 3 weeks ago

"Stegall said he passed out his business card with a Perry, Kansas, address and "one of the big city lawyers turned to his colleague and said with more shock than condescension in his voice, 'Where the heck is Perry, Kansas?' Only he used more colorful language."

A hee-larious anecdote, my friend, Caleb. Them big city-slicker lawyers in their fancy suits and Eye-talian leather shoes don't know where Perry, Kansas, is. Ain't that just typical!

Tell me Caleb, can ya' tell me where Plainfield, NY is? It has roughly the same population as Perry, KS. How many of us down to Earth good ol' folk in Kansas know "Where the heck Plainfield, New York is?"


weeslicket 7 months, 3 weeks ago

many examples from the column and comments to show why public vetting of candidates is actually helpful.


Thomas Bryce 7 months, 3 weeks ago

A nominee for Appellate court Judge who believes it is OK to use, and encouraged the use of "Forcible Resistance" against Laws you personally Don't agree with. Not exactly the stance I would expect Any Judge to take. Does Mr. Stegall have any middle ground on any Subject? I have read as much as I can find about him and He seems to have a strict personal agenda. If it is perceived that his decisions are Politically motivated instead of based on Law, it will not go unnoticed or unchallenged. Good Luck Mr. Stegall.


Keith 7 months, 3 weeks ago

"Brownback's office has declined to let the press ask questions of Stegall. A request for comment from the governor's office regarding the Schiavo statement was not immediately answered."

If you needed proof that he is to be the governor's pet judge, here it is.


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