Commentary on Judicial Impeachment Bill: ‘Garbage In, Garbage Out’

Garbage In, Garbage Out,” declares one of the latest plain-speaking Kansas media commentaries about the state legislature’s advancing a bill to expand the legal grounds for impeaching state Supreme Court justices (see Gavel Grab).

In the Hays Daily News commentary, Patrick Lowry describes the legislation this way: “In other words, the Kansas Supreme Court had better find favor with all the craziness passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor — or else.” He adds, “This bill is the codification of wildly unsubstantiated conspiracy theories dearly held by individuals who claim to be protecting the Constitution but in reality have no idea what the document contains.”

The bill includes among newly defined legal grounds for impeachment a judicial attempt to usurp the authority of the legislature or executive branch. The Associated Press quotes Justice at Stake as calling the measure “an affront to democracy,” and notes that Republican Rep. Steve Becker, a retired district court judge, said, “It would render the Supreme Court useless, basically.”

The two vote margin of the state Senate’s vote for final passage on Tuesday reflected misgivings by some GOP legislators about the bill, which may surface upon consideration by the House. The AP casts the Kansas measure as ground zero for a national effort:

“It’s the latest in a series of initiatives putting Kansas at the center of a national effort by GOP conservatives to remake state courts. Those have included failed efforts to change how Supreme Court justices are chosen and a threat by lawmakers – later dropped – to nullify the court system’s entire budget.”