Gavel Grab

‘War on Courts Escalating’ in Kansas, Editorial Says

Kansas_quarter,_reverse_side,_2005A Wichita Eagle editorial warns, “The weapons are silent court papers rather than bombs, but make no mistake: The war over the independence and authority of the Kansas judiciary is escalating. The courts’ ability to function risks serious injury, as does the separation of powers.”

The editorial says Kansas courts are under attack from the legislature and governor. One salvo involves the legislature reducing certain administrative authority of the state Supreme Court (see Gavel Grab for background about the controversy). A second involves the legislature setting in a 2014 law a 180-day deadline for delivery of court decisions. The Supreme Court recently struck down that provision as unconstitutional, saying it violated the separation of powers doctrine, according to a Topeka Capital-Journal blog.

The Wichita Eagle editorial pointed a finger at elected politicians. “In the wake of Supreme Court decisions he disliked, Gov. Sam Brownback has been unable to find the votes to amend the state constitution and give himself freer rein to select justices. Instead, he and conservative lawmakers have sought other ways to weaken and bully the high court while trying to downplay the reforms,” it said.

“It’s not premature for Kansans to worry about their court system, which needs to be funded and unencumbered in order to serve citizens and justice.” The editorial was headlined, “War on courts escalating.”

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