Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback Threatens to Defund State Judiciary

If one listens to the Republican Party and its Christofacist/Tea Party base, the constant blather is how they want to remain true to the Founding Fathers' constitutional plan while liberals would destroy the system.  Nothing could be further from the truth and it is the conservatives who want to destroy the system as they seek to implement their greed, fear and hate based agenda that would make a toxic form of Christianity the de facto, if not official, state religion.  Nowhere is this disingenuous batshitery and push toward anarchy worse than in Kansas where Sam Brownback - a man who I increasingly view as mentally ill - and the Republican controlled legislature are now attacking the state judiciary.  A piece in Slate looks at the troubling developments.  Here are highlights:

On Thursday, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed a bill that threatens the entire state's judiciary with destruction if it rules against a law he favors. Brownback has spent much of his tenure attempting to curb the state supreme court and consolidate power in the executive branch. Thursday's startling maneuver suggests the deeply conservative governor has no compunction about simply obliterating separation of powers when another branch of government gets in his way.

The Kansas trouble started in 2014, when the state supreme court ruled that the disparity between school funding in rich and poor districts violated the state constitution. The justices ordered the legislature to fix the problem. Soon after, the legislature passed an administrative law that stripped the supreme court of its authority to appoint local chief judges and set district court budgets. (Instead, district court judges—who are often quite conservative—were allowed to elect their own chief judge.)

Arriving shortly after the school funding ruling, this law was widely seen as a retaliation against the court—and a warning. In their first ruling, the justices stopped short of declaring that the school system as a whole was constitutionally underfunded. But the court acknowledged that it would one day answer that question. And if the justices mandate more school funding, the legislature will have to raise taxes, a step few legislators are eager to take.

Just in case the court didn't get the message, Brownback and the legislature have also threatened the justices with blatantly political reforms, like subjecting them to recall elections, splitting the court in two, lowering the retirement age, and introducing partisan elections. (Currently, a nominating commission creates a pool of candidates, and the governor selects from that bunch.)

Now the court has an opportunity to strike down the administrative law, which probably violates the state constitution. And that's where Brownback's insane new law comes in. The law declares that if the supreme court strikes down the administrative law, the entire state judiciary will lose its funding. Brownback and the legislature are essentially bullying the judiciary: Uphold our law or cease to exist. 

This scheme is rather bonkers. It's also par for the course for Kansas Republicans, who turned their state into a failed Tea Party experiment and are now terrified of paying the price. The state supreme court is simply pushing the legislature and the governor to uphold their basic constitutional duties. In response, the legislature and the governor are trying to destroy the court. That's not democracy.
As I continue to state, the Christofascists/Tea Party are a clear and present danger to constitutional government.  They are a cancer infecting America.

1 comment:

EdA said...

Seems to me that King George III tried this; in fact, attacks on an independent judiciary were among the explicit causes for the American Revolution, as stated in the Declaration of Independence. Indeed, the response of the Founding Fathers to this threat was the incorporation in Section 1 of Article III of the Constitution, the part that establishes the federal judiciary, "The judges, both of the supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behaviour, and shall, at stated times, receive for their services, a compensation, which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office."

Of course no one would expect a Fundamentalist Republiscum governor and former senator to care about "original intent" or anything other than might makes right.