Archive for Friday, September 2, 2016

Former Kansas governors going on tour to keep partisan politics out of judicial retention election

September 2, 2016, 10:22 a.m. Updated September 2, 2016, 11:58 a.m.


Topeka — The political battle over control of the Kansas Supreme Court will kick into high gear next week when four former governors go on a three-city tour urging voters to keep partisan politics out of judicial retention elections.

Former Republican Govs. Bill Graves and Mike Hayden will join Democrats Kathleen Sebelius and John Carlin in a series of invitation-only events in Kansas City, Mo., Topeka and Wichita.

On Friday, however, conservatives in the Kansas House, who want to oust four justices who are up for retention this year, launched what might be called a pre-emptive strike, sending out emails that denounce the news media for what they say has been biased coverage of the retention elections.

“The Kansas media’s mission to disparage conservatism and propagate liberal ideals never ceases,” stated the email from the Kansas House Republican caucus. “They’re essentially the Democrat party’s public relations team, beating a constant drum against common-sense conservatism while utterly failing to hold their liberal comrades to any semblance of accountability.”

Conservative groups are actively campaigning to remove four of the five justices who are up for retention: Chief Justice Lawton Nuss and Associate Justices Carol Beier, Dan Biles and Marla Luckert.

The fifth justice on the ballot, Caleb Stegall, was appointed to the bench by Gov. Sam Brownback, and conservative groups are campaigning in favor of his retention.

Earlier this year, the state committee of the Kansas Republican Party adopted a resolution endorsing the ouster of the four targeted justices, but GOP officials say the party itself is not putting any money or campaign resources behind that effort.

Conservatives have been upset with the court for more than a decade, dating back to the 2005 school finance decision in the case Montoy v. Kansas, in which the court ordered the Legislature to add hundreds of millions of dollars each year to the school funding formula.

Later this month, the court will hear oral arguments in yet another school finance case in which plaintiffs again are seeking upwards of $500 million a year in additional school funding.

Conservatives have also been critical of the court over a series of death penalty cases in which the court overturned the death sentences of several convicted killers, most notably Wichita brothers Jonathan and Reginald Carr, who were convicted of a grisly mass murder in December 2000.

Brownback used that issue in his 2014 re-election campaign, arguing that Democrat Paul Davis would appoint more justices like them. He also campaigned for the defeat of two justices who were up for retention that year, Eric Rosen and Lee Johnson, who narrowly survived that election.

One of the groups that is actively raising money and campaigning against the four justices is called Kansans for Justice, which was organized by relatives of the Carr brothers’ victims.

But the controversy surrounding those decisions is only part of the political battle. In each of the last two legislative sessions, conservative lawmakers have tried unsuccessfully to pass a constitutional amendment changing the way Supreme Court justices are chosen in ways that would put more power in the hands of the governor.

The series of events next week is being sponsored by Kansans for Fair Courts, an offshoot of the Topeka-based Kansas Values Institute, a group that advocates for moderate and progressive policies on a variety of issues.


Gary Pomeroy 1 year, 8 months ago

Yes - rule our way or we will come after you. Nothing like respecting the separation of powers. Now those who oppose have every right to do so - but just because you have the right to do something does not MAKE it right. I applaud the former governors for taking a stand against incipient despotism.

Gary Pomeroy 1 year, 8 months ago

Also notice that, at least according to the story, they are not opposing the Guv's appointment

Greg Cooper 1 year, 8 months ago

Maybe because Brownkoch's appointment is so obviously wrong that they see no real need to campaign against him, that the public has seen him for what he is, and the strong anti-Regressive wave flowing over Kansas makes it less likely that this shill will be retained anyway.

That being said, it is critical that the four up for retention be retained, not for their "liberal bias", which is not the case anyway, but because they have all exhibited a strong sense of what the state and national constitutions say and mean that losing them would be a blow to liberty in our state.

By the way, isn't it odd that the word "liberty" is the base for "liberal"?

David Smith 1 year, 8 months ago

I know a lot of people in Kansas have fallen for Brownback as they elected him twice, but SURELY they won't allow Brownback or ANY Governor to appoint these justices. You might as well have a Banana Republic if you do this. Please stop this terrible movement.

Bob Forer 1 year, 8 months ago

Graves and Hayden. Them were the days. Real Kansas Republicans. Intelligent, competent, moderate good and decent folks. Now the party is infected with radical RINOS who are destroying the State

Richard Heckler 1 year, 8 months ago

Voter Suppression = Denying a citizen the right to vote = breaking the law!

Shouldn't the FBI and the Attorney General at the federal level be investigating this matter? Can't citizens demand an FBI investigation?

THE GOP is NOT pro voter.

There is no legal foundation for this activity. These people have chosen a few thousand voters and pronounced them guilty without a jury trial.

Why are voters in Kansas so quiet?

Voting Republican … Why?

Voting the RINO/GOP ticket represents a war on women,a failing economy and a war on voters rights. A war on public education, medicare,medicaid and Social Security. All at the federal and state levels of government as we speak.

Voter ID/Voter Suppression is a problem that some are suggesting is being effective. Don't underestimate these white collar criminals.

Republicans Hate Voters seems like to me.

--- Republican politicians which have become extremely radical since 1980 are on a 24/7 schedule to suppress your right to vote. Which likely guarantees them election.

--- The Radical Republican Party have this voter suppression tactic down to a science which is to say they know exactly how many suppressed votes are necessary to win. Do NOT under estimate.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 8 months ago

Paperless electronic voting on touch screen machines does not provide confidence to ensure votes are counted the way voters intend.

The software on which votes are counted is protected as a corporate trade secret, and the software is so complex that if malicious code was embedded, no analysis could discover it. Further, because there is no voter verified paper record, it is not possible to audit the electronic vote for accuracy, nor is it possible to conduct an independent recount.

This over-complicated and expensive system is fraught with the potential for mistakes and undetected fraud. We should not trust the future of our nation to such malleable technology.

On July 23, 2003, the Johns Hopkins Information Security Institute reviewed the electronic voting system in Maryland and found that it had security far below even the most minimal security standards.

In the IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy 2004, four top computer scientists from the University of California, Johns Hopkins University, and Rice University similarly critiqued Diebold’s voting system:

"We found significant security flaws: voters can trivially cast multiple ballots with no built-in traceability, administrative functions can be performed by regular voters, and the threats posed by insiders such as poll workers, software developers, and janitors is even greater. Based on our analysis of the development environment, including change logs and comments, we believe that an appropriate level of programming discipline for a project such as this was not maintained.

"…The model where individual vendors write proprietary code to run our elections appears to be unreliable, and if we do not change the process of designing our voting systems, we will have no confidence that our election results will reflect the will of the electorate."

Computers are inherently subject to programming error, equipment malfunction, and malicious tampering. If we are to ensure fair and honest elections, and retain voter confidence in our democratic process, we need to ensure that there are no such questions. Therefore, it is crucial that any computerized voting system provide a voter-verifiable paper audit trail and that random audits of electronic votes be conducted on Election Day.

Paperless electronic voting machines make it impossible to safeguard the integrity of our vote - thereby threatening the very foundation of our democracy.

Moreover, the seller of the machines, the Diebold Corporation, is a supplier of money to conservative party candidates. The CEO and top officers of Diebold are consistent major contributors to conservative campaigns. A corporation with vested political interests should have zero control over the votes of the populace.

Voters should also urge their legislators to require a voter verified paper ballot trail for random audits and independent recounts. Count every vote.

Michael Kort 1 year, 8 months ago

Remove Justic Stegall from the bench,....... and bench him for good, elsewhere .

He was never even a "municipal traffic court judge" before bownie magically elevated him ( in just two steps ), into the Ks. State Court of Appeals and then into the Ks. State Supreme Court..........WHAT ? ? ?........REALLY ? ? ?

Maybe brownie should have just gone and grabbed a dog catcher, since lacking previous judicial experience on the bench ( at any level ), is apparently no impediment to being politically placed at the top of the pile of Ks. judges, by our politically corrupted governor with the help of a likewise corrupted legislature .

That was brownies best idea of " An Experienced Judge" ?......which, as a nut shell explanation, is "Why Governors Shouldn't Appoint Any State Judges, In Ks. " !

Keep the rest of the 4 Supreme Court Judges, who came into the job, with some real judicial experience .

Patrick Nichols 1 year, 8 months ago

This is so important an issue yet the four governors' "tour" is to three counties and invitation only events. If they really wanted to make a difference they would spend a week going to Hays, Goodland, Garden City, Salina, St . Frances, all the places where the radio is filled with the ads for the conservatives. Its not a "tour" if you only go to three places and only to a private audience.

Phillip Chappuie 1 year, 8 months ago

Just a minor point, but as I understand it the court did not overturn the Carr brothers death sentence. They recognized that the sentencing together was improper procedure and returned it to district court for re-sentence as individuals which most likely included the original outcome. They followed the rule of law. Nothing more, nothing less. And if the conservatives which to complain about the leanings of "media", maybe some of them need to go buy their own paper.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 1 year, 8 months ago

i had a conservative on here telling me I should believe in the rule of law, but then they don't like it. It's the original judge that should be in trouble for messing up not the Supreme Court. Of course, I understand that he is dead now. This is just a ploy for Brownie to take control of all the branches of government. Of course, the legislature is starting to slip through his fingers too.

Brad Avery 1 year, 8 months ago

"Conservatives have been upset with the court for more than a decade, dating back to the 2005 school finance decision in the case Montoy v. Kansas, in which the court ordered the Legislature to add hundreds of millions of dollars each year to the school funding formula."

Interesting, "conservatives" who so brazenly demand strict adherence to constitutional provisions they like, are willing to fund the removal of four competent justices who did their duty by enforcing the part of the Kansas Constitution the extremists don't like, i.e. "The legislature shall make suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state."

Their mantra appears to be: Lose an election, make it harder for people to vote; lose an argument, eliminate those who disagree.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.