Court’s Role is ‘Not to Be Popular,’ Kansas Chief Justice Says

Chief Justice Nuss

When two justices of the Kansas Supreme Court stopped in the Marshall County Courthouse during a recent visit to northern Kansas, their topics included general openness of court proceedings to the public and the impartial role of the court, according to The Marysville Advocate. 

“We always try to make sure that people understand what our role in state government is,” Chief Justice Lawton Nuss said. “And it’s not to be popular, not to do what people want us to do. We both took an oath when we became justices to support the Constitution of the state of Kansas and the United States, and that is where our allegiance lies.”

The justices’ visit was made at a time of “increasing tensions between Kansas’ judicial branch and the executive and legislative branches,” the newspaper added. “Rightwing Republicans controlling the Legislature are unhappy with court orders to boost school funding and have threatened judicial funding in recent years. Those legislators along with Gov. Sam Brownback also want to amend the Kansas Constitution to give the governor greater control in the selection of Supreme Court justices.” Moreover, “Republican-led campaigns are expected this summer and fall to try to oust four of the five Supreme Court justices … up for a retention vote in the November election.”

Kansas Public Radio reported, meanwhile, “Kansas Governor Signs School Aid Bill Meant to Mollify Supreme Court.”