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Kansas Legislature Threatens To Defund State Judiciary

This is a test to see whether a legislature can force judges to do their bidding.
Kansas Legislature Threatens To Defund State Judiciary

Now that the Kochs have bought themselves the Kansas statehouse and governor's office, they're out for the state courts.

According to the Lawrence Journal-World, legislators are "threatening to cut off all funding for the judicial branch of state government if the Kansas Supreme Court strikes down a law enacted last year spelling out how chief judges in the district courts are selected."

Got that, Kansas Supreme Court? Do what they want or the budget gets it.

It is an entirely partisan effort, intended to control the courts and their decision about school funding. When Kansas legislators passed funding for the courts, they inserted a provision stripping the Supreme Court of the right to appoint chief judges. They then inserted a non-severabiility clause, which means that if any part of the legislation is struck down by the courts, all of it is, including funding.

If the courts don't rule in favor of the KochPublicans, they cut off their own paychecks. No pressure there, guys.

Rep. John Carmichael, of Wichita, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, said he believes the language is meant to send another message to the courts.

"It leads me to only one conclusion, and that is that the Legislature is attempting once again to hold a gun to the head of the courts in an attempt to intimidate the courts into ruling in the school finance case in a way that pleases some members of the Legislature," Carmichael said.

Carmichael, an attorney who practices in Wichita, said the selection of judges has been a hot issue in the Sedgwick County District Court, where judges are elected in partisan races. For several years, he said, the chief judge of that court was a Democrat while the majority of judges on the bench were Republicans.

Republicans, of course, deny that it's political at all, and make their usual empty gestures toward "fixing" the funding issues if their measure is found to be unconstitutional.

We all know what that means. And if that ruling should come when the legislature is not in session, well, that's just too bad.

So much for an independent judiciary. Kansas, when are you going to take your state back?

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