As it was a decade ago, the Kansas Supreme Court is smack dab in the middle of a controversy affecting pro-lifers.
Back then, the top Court was being utilized by abortion attorneys to halt then-Attorney General Phill Kline’s battle to enforce state late-term abortion laws.
Today, the state Supreme Court held a hearing over an election law. Their ruling will affect efforts to retain a true pro-life Kansas Senator, and to thwart the anti-life agenda of President Obama and Sen. Majority leader, Harry Reid.
U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, a stalwart pro-life Republican, is on the ballot for re-election in November. The Democrat opponent, Chad Taylor, caused a shockwave when he filed to remove himself from the race during the last hour of the last possible legal day to do so, Sept. 3.
It is not debated that Taylor, without state-wide name recognition and funding, was urged by anti-Roberts interests to bow out, in hopes of clearing a path for recently-declared, ‘independent’, candidate Greg Orman. The political bosses calculated that a lone, multi-millionnaire candidate might better take down incumbent Roberts, following his bruising GOP primary fight.
What the Kansas Supreme Court heard today, was whether Taylor properly effectuated his request under state law. In 1997, Kansas altered the law which had allowed candidates to leave the race at any time.
Testimony showed a rash of “placeholder” candidates who got on the ballot by primary, and then relinquished their candidacy–allowing party bosses to secure rising, more viable candidates on the ballot at the last minute. Such “placeholder” candidates violate the integrity of elections, and undermine voters in favor of back-room dealing.
Thus, the legislature changed Kansas statute 25-306a to require that candidates can only get their name off the ballot– after the primary– by
- death, or
- declaring they are “incapable of fulfilling the duties of office if elected.”
Taylor is alive—although not talking to media. He remains the Shawnee County (Topeka) District Attorney. The legal disagreement is whether it was sufficient for him to request that his name be deleted “pursuant to” the relevant statute, without claiming any incapacity to serve.
Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach, whose office oversees electoral matters, insists he was forced to do his duty and refuse to remove Taylor’s name because Taylor had not made any “declaration” of any “incapability.” Kobach also contends that this is not a case of him trying to help fellow Republican Roberts.
The Kansas Supreme Court, whose members generally hold themselves out as being able to overcome their own personal partisan influences [LOL] will attempt to rule very narrowly on the smallest legal point. They aggressively questioned the Secretary of State’s contention that Taylor’s request was not in “substantial” compliance. Substantial was not defined, but contrasted with absolute compliance to every provision of the statute. The fact that past candidate removal requests had not been notarized, for example, was illustrative that Kobach’s office had made some judgment calls—inferring that this was a step too far.
It is assumed that the Court will issue its ruling tomorrow; they are in “emergency” mode as the state ballots must be printed by Friday. It’s dangerous to predict these things, but it seems likely that the Court will uphold Taylor’s request –and surely it will not be because four of the seven justices were selected by past-Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius!
If the Court does rule that Taylor is off the ballot, a related issue that was not discussed in today’s hearing, is whether the state Democrat party must supply a substitute candidate. Stay tuned!