Gavel Grab

Archive for the 'Court Bashing' Category

Kansas Supreme Court Under Political Attack Again

Critic say Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is injecting politics into the Kansas judicial branch with criticism of the quality of the state Supreme Court judges.

According to, Kobach is calling for a change to the merit selection system of choosing state Supreme Court justices – this time making claims that Kansas federal judges are better qualified because they go through a Senate confirmation process.

That assertion is simply not true say fair court advocates.

“Secretary of State Kobach is once again meddling with the judicial branch and trying to bring politics into our courts. Our current system was put in place in 1956 following a political scandal involving appointments to the high court by the then-governor in what became known as the ‘Triple-Play.’ Our current selection system has proven to be the best way to ensure quality judges are on the bench and the threats of politicization are minimized,” Ryan Wright, Executive Director of Kansans for Fair Courts, told Gavel Grab.

Read more

Comments are off for this post

Ben Carson Wants to Target Judges Over Marriage Rulings

Carson speaks to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, MarylandAnother potential GOP presidential contender is talking about ways to counter court rulings that permit marriage for same-sex couples. Retired surgeon Ben Carson said Congress should “reprimand or remove” those judges responsible for the rulings.

Federal court rulings that strike down state bans on same-sex marriage go against the will of the people, Carson said, according to an article.  “[W]hen judges do not carry out their duties in an appropriate way, our Congress actually has the right to reprimand or remove them,” he said.

Gavel Grab mentioned earlier former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s call for the impeachment of a judge who struck down a marriage ban, and his remarks about states’ options if the Supreme Court allows marriages for same-sex couples. Meanwhile Reuters reported, “Obama says hopes Supreme Court rules in favor of gay marriage.”

Comments are off for this post

Riled Washington Legislators Strike at State’s High Court

washingtonstatecapitol2How many ways are there for Washington legislators to lash out at the Washington Supreme Court over its funding decisions about K-12 public education? Plenty, including “dis-inviting the Chief Justice from delivering a state of the judiciary address,” Gavel to Gavel reports.

Gavel Grab has mentioned recent proposals (click here) to shift from nonpartisan to partisan elections and to elect justices by geographic districts within the state. Gavel to Gavel, a publication of the National Center for State Courts, says that along with the legislature’s dis-inviting the Chief Justice for the regular address, the latest proposals are all part of legislators’ falling out with the Supreme Court over its education rulings. Read more

Comments are off for this post

In Texas, Another Court-Stripping Bill to Punish Judges

Texas State FlagA bill introduced in the Texas legislature closely mirrors one introduced in South Carolina earlier (see Gavel Grab) with an intent to punish state judges for handling cases involving marriage for same-sex couples.

The Texas bill provides, according to Gavel to Gavel, “A state or local governmental employee officially may not recognize, grant, or enforce a same-sex marriage license. If an employee violates this subsection, the employee may not continue to receive a salary, pension, or other employee benefit at the expense of the taxpayers of this State.”

After the South Carolina legislation was proposed, Justice at Stake Director of State Affairs Debra Erenberg criticized it as “a brazen political attack on the independence of the judicial branch.” Read more

Comments are off for this post

Proposals Threaten Washington Court, Editorial Warns

Washington_quarter,_reverse_side,_2007Two proposals to revise judicial elections for the Washington Supreme Court threaten the judiciary and must be rejected, a Bellingham (Washington) Herald editorial says.

One legislative proposal would shift from nonpartisan to partisan elections and the other would elect justices by geographic districts within the state, the editorial says. It characterizes the first as “ridiculous” and the second as “overtly political.”

In each case the proposals would invite big spending to influence the judicial elections, according to the editorial. Moreover, “Justices are not supposed to represent any constituency of people, but rather to be objective in reviewing laws and unresolved legal questions,” and statewide elections are appropriate, it adds.

Comments are off for this post

Court-Stripping South Carolina Bill Stirs Controversy

justice-scalesA bill filed in the South Carolina legislature is drawing attention for its intent to punish state judges for handling cases involving marriage for same-sex couples.   LGBT media, including the San Diego Gay and Lesbian News and Erie Gay News, highlighted the bill and Justice at Stake’s statement on it, which called the proposed legislation a “brazen” attack on the political independence of courts.   The proposed legislation would, among other things, prevent state judges from recognizing or upholding marriage rights for same-sex couples, and dock pay for judges who do not dismiss cases regarding these rights.  The San Diego Gay and Lesbian News also profiled the bill’s sponsor, a conservative Republican, and encouraged readers to contact him by including his email address and phone number.

The bill, HB 3022, goes to the state House Committee on the Judiciary and will be taken up in 2015.

Comments are off for this post

Bill on Switch to Partisan Court Elections Actually a ‘Poke’?

washington_flag_mapThere’s more pushback from the Washington state legislature over state Supreme Court rulings about the inadequacy of funding for public education.

A bill filed in the House by 19 representatives would shift the state from holding nonpartisan races for the Supreme Court to partisan races, and one of its sponsors labeled it more of a “poke” than substantive legislation, according to a Seattle Times blog.

The first section of the bill states, “The legislature finds that because the supreme court has decided to act like the legislature and has thus violated the separation of powers, the supreme court should be considered partisan like the legislature.” Read more

Comments are off for this post

On Campaign Trail, Kansas Court Ruling a Hot Topic

Sam Brownback, Paul DavisThe final, contentious weeks of the political season are seeing heated debate in Kansas over the state Supreme Court’s voiding death penalty sentences handed two brothers in a notorious quadruple killing. The brothers still face life prison terms in a separate killing.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback on Thursday endorsed removing two of the justices in the 6-1 court majority in the case, the Associated Press said; the pair, Justices Eric Rosen and Lee Johnson, are the only court members standing for retention in November. The Republican Party chairman called for defeating the two justices.

“I support the families and what they’re pushing — the non-retention vote,” Brownback said. Family members of some of the crime spree victims are advocating against retention of the justices. Brownback is running for reelection, and his campaign has begun a TV ad critical of the Supreme Court and saying opponent Paul Davis stands with “liberal judges who let the Carr brothers off the hook.” Read more

No comments

Crossfire in Commentaries Over Alaska Judicial Council

Alaska-quarterFrom an op-ed critical of the Alaska Judicial Council and a rebuttal by a council defender, you can learn about controversy over a nonpartisan entity established at Alaska’s statehood to evaluate judicial candidates within a merit-based selection system.

John Harmon, an Anchorage educator and a former Fortune 500 corporate attorney, wrote recently in the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, “Alaska promotes its judicial system as ‘merit’ based, but the actions seen from the Council appear to be those of partisan politics.”

This week Barbara Hood, a retired attorney and a founding board member of Justice Not Politics Alaska, wrote a Valley Frontiersman reply asserting that the council is doing its job well. “In recent years, members of Alaska’s judiciary have come under attack by political groups with agendas,” she said. “Now the same special interest groups seek to reshape our justice system by targeting the council itself.” Read more

No comments

Retired KS Justice: 'Save Our Independent Judiciary'

Six_Fred_DA“Kansans should be concerned” that a new court funding law threatens the independence of the state judiciary and violates the separation of powers of the three government branches, retired Kansas Justice Fred N. Six writes in a Wichita Eagle op-ed. He advocates for its repeal.

The new law provides increased court funding while making those funds contingent upon overhauling administration of the judicial system. It allows local courts to opt out of state Supreme Court control over budget preparation and submission and takes away the Supreme Court’s authority to pick chief district court judges (see Gavel Grab).

“As citizens,” Justice Six writes, “we are entitled to a fair day in court, whether to ensure that our rights are protected or our legal disputes are decided impartially. We should be extremely skeptical of efforts by the legislative or executive branches to manipulate the powers assigned to the Kansas Supreme Court by our constitution and make the courts subservient to the political branches.” He concludes: Read more

No comments

Next Page »