Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘judicial reform’

Bill carrier Rep. Todd

Bill carrier
Rep. Todd

Although this proposal already passed the Senate THREE YEARS AGO, the Kansas House today could not muster the 2/3 needed (84 votes) to put HCR 5005 on the November ballot. HCR 5005 would let the public vote to change the way state Supreme Court justices are selected.

The vote attained was 68 for, 54 against (with 3 reps absent). Those voting yes are the reps who treat the pro-life cause as a priority– not a preference, or an afterthought. Kansans for Life considered this the most important pro-life vote of this legislative session.

Here are the names of state reps who supported this measure to allow Kansans to vote for a change in judicial selection, with those in bold having spoken at the podium urging passage:

Anthimides, Barker, Barton, Billinger, Boldra, Bradford, Bruchman, Campbell, B. Carpenter, W. Carpenter, Claeys, Corbet, Davis, DeGraaf, Dove, Edmonds, Esau, Estes, Garber, Goico, Gonzalez, Grosserode, Hawkins, Hedke, Hemsley, Highland, Hildabrand, Hoffman, Houser, Huebert, Hutchins, Hutton, Johnson, D.Jones, K.Jones, Kahrs, Kelley, Kleeb, Lunn, Macheers, Mason, Mast, McPherson, Merrick, O’Brien, Osterman, Pauls, Peck, Powell, Rahjes, Read, Rhoades, Rubin, Ryckman,Jr., Ryckman,Sr., Scapa, Schwab, Schwartz, Smith, Suellentrop, Sutton, Thimesch, Todd (bill carrier), Vickrey, Waymaster, Weber, Whitmer, Williams.

Speaker Merrick

Speaker Merrick

State reps Henry, Kiegerl and Seiwert were absent. Contact information for all state reps is here. Read explanations of votes here (pgs. 1991-1994).

Please thank your state reps who voted yes. Special thanks to House Speaker, Ray Merrick (R-Stillwell), for allowing this vote and staging the informational caucuses this week.

The issue is not closed. Kansas has the least transparent and least democratic process used to arrive at nominees for the state Supreme Court (see chart). Behind closed doors a commission of nine –including five lawyers voted in by lawyers– puts forth three names and the governor must choose one or else the Supreme Court Chief Justice picks one.

Our State Supreme Court is more liberal than the U.S. Supreme Court, which — with an 8-1 vote– chastised our top Court two weeks ago for its handling of a death penalty sentencing issue.

Our second highest state tribunal, the Court of Appeals, recently allowed dismemberment abortions to continue by a split decision interpreting our 1859 state Constitution to embody a right to abortion stronger than that of Roe. That’s pathetic!

All our pro-life laws are in jeopardy when the courts continue to deliver rulings that substitute abortion advocacy for strict construction analysis. Stay tuned!

Read Full Post »

sam KFL photo

Gov. Brownback

In an upbeat state-of the state address Tuesday evening, Gov. Sam Brownback said, “We have become the shining city on the hill and the champions for life.”  The  pro-life excerpts from the speech are here.

Gov. Brownback has asked for a change in the judicial selection method for the State Supreme Court which aligns with KFL’s top legislative priority this year.

KFL opposes the secretive deliberations that choose Kansas Supreme Court justices. Any change in selection method must be approved first by 2/3 of the House and Senate and then gain the assent of the public on the the 2016 ballot.

Brownback supports dumping the current selection method in his speech:“The Legislature should put before Kansas voters a proposed Constitutional amendment for a more democratic selection process for our Supreme Court justices. Kansas is the only state in the country where the selection of Supreme Court justices is controlled by a handful of lawyers.[and]…removes the people of Kansas from the process of selecting judges.”

As an example of an unprincipled judiciary, a Kansas district court has issued a temporary injunction on the Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act and declared a right to abortion exists in Kansas’ pre-Civil War constitution! Kansans now await a ruling from the State Court of Appeals –at any time– on that injunction.

PLANNED PARENTHOOD DEFUNDING
no PPWhat  the mainstream media took note of was the Governor’s announcement on Planned Parenthood. “Today, I am directing [KDHE] Secretary Susan Mosier to ensure that not a single dollar of taxpayer money goes to Planned Parenthood through our Medicaid program I welcome legislation that would enshrine this directive in state law.”

In the Associated Press coverage, the lobbyist for Planned Parenthood of Kansas Mid-Missouri said that $61,000 was at stake and that they intend to fight for it. Medicaid provision for low-income health is jointly subsidized by federal and state monies.

Under Gov. Brownback, Kansas has already insured that $370,000.00 in annual Title X reproductive health money for low-income patients is prioritized to full-service public clinics and hospitals. Planned Parenthood–failing to meet those qualifications– challenged this annually renewed prioritization in court and lost at the federal appellate level.

Brownback received extended applause last night after this segment of the speech: “In 2011, I signed legislation stopping most taxpayer funding from going to Planned Parenthood.  The time has come to finish the job. Planned Parenthood’s trafficking of baby body parts is antithetical to our belief in human dignity.

The AP also quoted Kansas Attorney General, Derek Schmidt, as promising to defend withholding this funding from Planned Parenthood.

Read Full Post »

judicial activismThe Kansas Supreme Court has deferred examining whether the Kansas constitution contains a right to abortion, as “discovered” in June by a lone district court judge. The state Attorney General’s appeal of the “discovery” thus stays in the state Court of Appeals.

Outside of the state political intrigue surrounding this development, it is symbolic of a national strategy: pro-abortion legal interests are forcing state courts to “discover” abortion rights in state constitutions. This is their backup plan–because absolute support for abortion over the past decades has eroded at the U.S. Supreme Court.

The horrific Roe ruling in 1973 that legalized the destruction of over 56 million innocent lives did not shut down dissent as abortion interests had hoped. Instead, not only has the population become more pro-life, states have gained more leverage in restricting abortion and have accrued legal footholds to overturn Roe.

In response, abortion strategy has been to get “mini” Roe rulings in the states by filing legal challenges to state pro-life laws that include claims that there is a state constitutional basis for abortion. It worked in Tennessee, where an overreach of their state supreme court declared a state constitutional basis for abortion did exist, blocking pro-life protections in that state for 15 years. It took tremendous efforts to eventually mount the successful ballot initiative that overruled that overreach.

DISMEMBERMENT BAN IS THREAT
In April, Kansas passed the Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act, to ban the barbaric method of ripping apart living unborn children until they bleed to death. The Act poses a huge threat to abortion interests, both financially and legally.stop dismembering poster

Enter the national Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), filing suit to preserve dismemberment abortions on behalf of Kansas City suburban abortionists Herb Hodes and Traci Nauser. The legal brief included claims about an as-yet-unacknowledged state right to abortion, as had other suits that Hodes & Nauser / CRR had filed against Kansas pro-life laws.

The lawsuit went to Shawnee County district Judge Larry Hendricks, who issued a temporary injunction on the Act June 25. Hendricks so thoroughly agreed with abortionists’ legal claims that he allowed the CRR to write his injunction ruling—a very rare occurrence.

That is how citizens of the very pro-life state of Kansas were informed that –unbeknownst to them, much less the authors of the state constitution– a legal right to abortion, separate and distinct from the one issued in Roe, has existed all along!

The office of Attorney General Derek Schmidt immediately filed to appeal Hendricks’ injunction with its bold pronouncements; the office has continually asserted that

the notion that our 1859 state constitution protects abortion “is a fantasy.”

Soon after, Schmidt’s office filed a motion to move the appeal straight to the state Supreme Court, due to the gravity of the effects on Kansas law that would follow under this constitutional “discovery.”

JUDGE SELECTION MATTERS
On Aug 30, without explanation, and by a 4-3 vote, the Kansas State Supreme Court rejected the A.G.’s request to intervene now. The Supreme Court should have complied with the request because it would inevitably be asked to rule on it from the loser of the appellate case. Thankfully, the appellate court has promised to act on an expedited timeline.

Ks Supreme Court

Kansas Supreme Court

Large political considerations are in play.

There has been growing unrest with anti-life justices on the state supreme court chosen under the least representative nomination method in the nation.

Kansans for Life has repeatedly called out that Court for their preferential treatment of abortion clinics in statewide legal cases going back to 1998.

In theory, citizens would show their opposition to judicial activism at the ballot box, where the judges of the supreme and appellate courts stand for “retention” every six years. Unfortunately, there has been a reluctance to vote them out and they are reliably retained by comfortable margins. Even the publicized death of a judge (whose name could not be removed from the printed ballot in time) did not keep voters from supporting his retention!

Kansans for Life has made court reform a top pro-life priority and pushed hard to improve the nomination process of the state’s highest courts. We have achieved a new selection method for the appellate court (by statute) but not yet for the state supreme court (which requires a legislative super majority and statewide ballot).

We educated the public about anti-life judges before the 2010 and 2014 elections; although none were defeated, a significant dent was made in their retention margins.

Five of the seven supreme court justices and six of the fourteen appellate judges in Kansas are up for retention in 2016. Those who are so extreme as to ratify the invention of a state right to abortion in our pre-Civil War Constitution –at a time when abortion was illegal in every state—may very well be a little nervous about losing their seats on the bench.

Read Full Post »

Senate VP Jeff King

Sen. Jeff King

28 of 40 Kansas Senators voted Wednesday to approve two measures allowing reform of the judicial nomination system. It would affect all the state’s highest justices and judges–those on the Kansas Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.

The current system, “does not have the legitimacy for the voters of the state of Kansas that it needs,” according to the bill sponsor, new Senate Vice-president, Jeff King (R-Independence).

The first Senate bill, SCR 1601, allows the public to vote to change the Kansas Constitution method of selecting the state Supreme Court and needs 2/3 approval of both chambers to be put on the 2014 ballot. SCR 1601 would put the selection of the appellate court into the state Constitution.

SCR 1601 mirrors the House measure, HCR 5002, applying to selection for both courts, and which passed favorably out of the House Judiciary committee last week, following extensive testimony over three days.

The Senate also passed a second, companion bill SB 8, creating a seven-member commission that would review the caliber of the Governor’s nominee for use in Senate confirmation.

Kansans for Life is scoring these measures as pro-life; we have long supported judicial selection reform measures that improve transparency and public involvement.  In 2006, we scored as pro-life a vote supporting a more modest reform measure allowing Senate confirmation of state Supreme Court nominees. During Senate confirmation, the public can learn of the leanings and past rulings of the nominees, similar to the vetting that happens at the federal level for nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Sen. majority leader Terry Bruce

Sen. Terry Bruce

The current method of filling each vacancy for the state’s Supreme and appellate courts is considered secretive and non-democratic. In private deliberations, the judicial nominating committee, composed of five lawyers and four non-lawyers, selects three names from which the governor must choose one. The reform would give the governor free reign for picking a nominee, which the Senate –in open session– would have to vote whether to confirm or not. In the latter case, the process starts anew.

The reform also eliminates the current nominating committee. New Senate Majority Leader, Terry Bruce (R-Hutchinson), described that committee as “distorted by special interest lawyers”.  Both Senators King and Bruce, who urged the reform measures, are themselves attorneys by profession; but many attorneys, including the Kansas Bar association, have long fought to keep the nominating committee.

More discussion of the Kansas courts’ pro-abortion bias and testimony about the nominating committee political bias will appear in a follow-up post.

Read Full Post »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 56 other followers