Archive for Thursday, December 24, 2015

Editorial: Crisis looms

The legislative power play aimed at the Kansas courts has failed. Now, lawmakers need to put political games aside and approve funding for the state’s judicial branch.

December 24, 2015

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The governor and state legislators should not be surprised by Wednesday’s Supreme Court action striking down a state law that changed how chief judges are selected in district courts across the state.

The only mystery now is how the Kansas Legislature will address another provision of that law that automatically defunds the state’s court system as a result of Wednesday’s ruling.

Despite some denials from legislative leaders, it’s hard to believe lawmakers didn’t intend to pick a fight with the courts when they passed this law. They said that requiring chief judges to be elected by the other judges in their districts, rather than appointed by the Supreme Court, was an effort to impose more local control, but it was obvious from the beginning that the law would be challenged as an unconstitutional infringement of the judicial branch’s authority to oversee state courts.

To make things worse, legislators added a “nonseverability clause” to the bill, nullifying the judicial budget if other parts of the bill were struck down. That clause also is the subject of court action, and an injunction in that case will keep money flowing to the courts at least until mid-March.

That gives the Legislature a little time after it returns in January to deal with this mess. Hopefully, the legislators who championed this bill last session will bring a different attitude to Topeka in January and work to ease the growing animosity of the legislative and executive branches toward the state court system. Unfortunately, such a change of heart is not guaranteed or, perhaps, even likely. Instead, many observers expect lawmakers to push for new judicial selection laws and perhaps other measures aimed at the courts.

Just for the record, the Supreme Court unanimously concluded that the statute violated the state’s constitutional separation of powers. Even Justice Caleb Stegall, Gov. Sam Brownback’s only appointment to the court, concurred, although he wrote a separate opinion that offered some different reasoning.

The law that was struck down Wednesday was an attack on the separation of powers that is essential to the government of the state. Tying that law to the judicial branch’s budget was a legislative power play that failed. Pressing that case will only push the state toward a constitutional crisis that benefits no one. Approving funding for the judicial branch — without further political games — should be at the top of the Legislature’s agenda when it convenes in January.

Comments

Fred Whitehead Jr. 1 year, 8 months ago

Well.........what did you expect? The fascist supporters of the tea bag idiots in the election was sure to rear it's ugly head, and this issue is a good starting place. The voters assured this sort of problem by voting for the fascist GOP slate and by their unprecedented failure to bother to even vote in the election.

The humor in this editorial is that this newsrag supported the fascist slate of idiots running in Kansas and now makes whining remarks about the deplorable outcome, the attempt to overthrow the Kansas judicial system by the legislature. Why the surprise???

The Kansas government wishes a theocracy based on their "religion" much like the Islamic State where religious crap governs the "backsliding" citizenry. Stay tuned for the chopping off of heads.

Larry Tucker 1 year, 7 months ago

Your editorial hits the spot when it comes to separation of powers between the three branches of government in a democracy. The courts should be independent of the legislature and executive branch and vice versa. The problem is that one branch or should I say two are trying to supersede the fundamentals of democracy to impose their political beliefs. If they are successful then other areas of separation of those powers will be at risk including school finance. The state supreme court understands this so now the legislature and governor will need to respond. The only alternative left will be a continued migration of the state's population to other states who still practice democracy.

Michael Kort 1 year, 7 months ago

WELL, I AGREE WIH MR WHITEHEAD, ABOVE . 1) THE PREVIOUS ENDORSEMENT OF THE GOP SLATE WAS A "CROWN OF MISTAKEN INTENT" FOR THIS PAPER . 2) I HAVE ALSO NOTICED THAT THE TERRORISTS ARE WINING; i.e.., BY OUR AGREEMENT TO REACT TO THEM WITH OUR OWN VERSIONS OF THEIR DICTATORIAL FASCISTIC POLITICAL CANDIDATES/LEADERS AND OUR GOVERNMENTS OFFICIALS WHO ARE TIED TO LOW BALL RELIGIOUS NUT BAG LEADERS, WHO WOULD WISH TO RUN THE WORLD OFF OF A CLIFF TO PLEASE THEIR ( ANY ) GOD. OUR COUNTRY, AS VOTERS, HAVE GROWN APATHETIC TOWARDS VOTER RESPONSIBILITY AND ARE RUNNING OFF INTO "DESTRUCTIVE RELIGIOUS RIGHTNESS" AS A REFUGE FROM A CRULE WORLD, THAT LATELY SEEMS TO BE FULL OF ITS' OWN "DESTRUCTIVE RELIGIOUS RIGHTNESS" , AS IF "OURS" VS "THEIRS" MAKES IT SOMEHOW BETTER,....SOMEHOW ? OUR MEDIA IS WILLING EACH DAY TO REMIND US THAT THEIR ARE PEOPLE OUT THERE WHO ARE WILLING TO DIE OR KILL OTHERS, SUPPOSEDLY FOR THEIR GOD . DOES OUR MEDIA EVER SUGGUEST TO SUCH PEOPLE OR TO US, THAT LIFE IS REALLY ABOUT LIVING FOR GOD AND FOR THE LIVES OF OTHERS WHO NEED WHAT WE BRING THRU OUR LIVES TO THIS WORLD ? 3) OBVIOUSLY, benito brownback & co ARE MORE THAN WILLING TO UNDO OUR U.S. & STATES CONSTITUTIONS' "SEPARATIONS OF POWERS PROVISIONS", THAT HAVE WORKED JUST FINE IN THIS COUNTRY, FOR HUNDREDS OF YEARS.....BECAUSE THEIR CORPORATE AND RELIGIOUS NUT BAG LOW BALL SUPPORTERS, HAVE NO RESPECT ( OR IDEA ) FOR WHAT HAS ALLOWED THIS COUNTRIES FREEDOMS ( OR THEMSELVES ), TO BE AS THEY ARE ( NOT A CLUE SHOWN HERE FROM THEM...... AND NO RESPECT FOR THE FOUNDERS INSIGHTS OR OUR LEGACY CONSTITUTION ) . 4) WHY DOES THIS PAPER EVER REFER TO THE KS LEGISLATURE AS "LAW MAKERS" OR "LEGISLATORS",.....WHEN INDEED, THEY DID "BREAK THE LAW OF THE LAND" BY ATTEMPTING TO BYPASS THE BASICS OF OUR U.S. & STATE CONSTITUTIONS ? I WOULD CALL THEM "SEDITIONISTS" AND OF "BEING DISINGENUOUS TO THEIR OATHS OF OFFICE" .

Paul Beyer 1 year, 7 months ago

Minor point Michael. I don't read any post that is all Caps, therefore I don't believe I've ever read one of yours. Try making normal written posts and maybe people will listen to your ideas and positions.

Michael Kort 1 year, 7 months ago

Whatever......but you have to admit that caps are easier to read on a small screen and in the land of the free, that you are free to not read whatever you wish to not read . What you do or do not read is your choice and maybe there is an editorial job at this paper just waiting for you to apply for it !

Cait McKnelly 1 year, 7 months ago

Played out to it's most extreme conclusion, the Federal courts could revoke Kansas' statehood for refusing to provide a "republican" government (i.e. one that echoes the Federal governement with three branches and a system of checks and balances), which is a requirement for statehood. Kansas would revert back to a US territory. Brownback would be out on his can and a new governor would be appointed. (Hey, I can dream, can't I?)

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