Archive for Monday, October 31, 2016

Editorial: Retain justices

October 31, 2016

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Five Kansas Supreme Court justices — Chief Justice Lawton Nuss and Justices Marla Luckert, Carol Beier, Daniel Biles, and Caleb Stegall — are up for retention in the Nov. 8 election. Each has demonstrated competency while serving on the court and should be retained.

If retained, the justices will serve six-year terms before facing retention again.

Supreme Court justices are not elected. They are appointed by the governor based on recommendations made by a judicial nominating commission. Judicial retention was adopted in Kansas in 1958 to add public accountability to the judicial appointment process. Since the process began, voters have retained every Supreme Court justice to stand for retention.

Kansans for Justice is trying to change that this year. That group is campaigning against the retention of Nuss, Luckert, Beier and Biles. The group supports only Stegall, who was appointed by Gov. Sam Brownback in 2013.

Kansans for Justice has been running commercials critical of the justices, particularly the court’s handling of the criminal case of Reginald and Jonathan Carr, brothers who went on a crime spree in 2000, killing five people. In 2014, the Kansas Supreme Court overturned the death penalties given to both brothers, ruling that the trial judge had erred during the penalty phase. In January, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Kansas Supreme Court, returning the Carr brothers to death row.

In addition to the Carr case, many believe the push to oust the justices is retribution for the Kansas Supreme Court’s rulings on K-12 education funding. The court has ruled that the state’s method of funding public education was unconstitutional and inadequate. In the coming months, justices are expected to issue a ruling defining adequate funding for education, a decision that could require the state Legislature to put hundreds of millions of dollars more toward education. That ruling is expected to have a dramatic impact on the state budget.

The Kansas Supreme Court rules on thousands of cases. Voters do not and should not expect every decision to reflect their individual views, nor should that be the standard for judicial competence. What Kansans should expect is for justices to be advocates for the law and to be rigorous and thorough in examining cases to ensure that justice is served regardless of political fallout. Every justice on the ballot has demonstrated they meet that standard and should be retained on Nov. 8.

Comments

Calvin Anders 1 year, 1 month ago

"In addition to the Carr case, many believe the push to oust the justices is retribution for the Kansas Supreme Court’s rulings on K-12 education funding". Really LJW? The Carr case isn't the real issue at all. Political groups have latched onto this one case and distorted the facts in that case to play on voters emotions. You should be calling out the PAC groups for their shameless lies and distortions. Your letter serves as an apology for what you imply is the Supreme Court's mishandling of the Carr case. If you really want to allow the PAC groups to make this about the Carr case, you could at least explain that the implication that the Court tried to free any wanton criminal is a distortion. You could point out that setting aside a death sentence on technical grounds is probably a good idea. I, for one, would prefer courts to be extra careful in sentencing anyone to death. But the Carr case is just cover for an agenda to clear the Court so Brownie can install right wing puppets like Stegall. I am adamant that 4 of the 5 judges up for retention should be retained, but if, LJW, you are going to offer such a weak and poorly reasoned argument to retain, I'd just as soon you keep your opinion to yourselves.

Buzz Anderson 1 year, 1 month ago

This is just shameless. The only thing that is going to happen is Brownback is going to stack the court to do his bidding. He in effect, wants a kangaroo court so anything passed by the ultra rightwing commie republicans will stick Funding for schools? Screw the kids, we have rich donors whose millions are more important. Taxes for the rich? ARE YOU CRAZY? They bri...I mean support us in elections. Poor whining? Well they have too much already. They should be grateful just to be living under Dear Leader Brownback who has so generously allowed them to stay in the state instead of being kicked out.

Hungry kids? Put 'em to work. If five year olds could to it back in 1900 then they can work now.

FoodStamps? FOR WHAT? Sitting around being lazy smoking dope on their porches? Screw 'em. Get buses to take them to the farms to earn their food.

AND it gets worse.

THAT is Brownbacks wish for Kansas. He is desperate to prove his state which is circling the drain can work with no taxes and blaming everything on the poor and kids who need schooling. No wonder teachers are leaving in droves.

ALL he wants is to appoint Supreme Court justices who will rubber stamp everything he wants then turn around and say "SEE THE COURTS SAY WE ARE RIGHT".

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