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Posts Tagged ‘Justice Caleb Stegall’

Justice Stegall

“Kansas’ highest court appeared receptive Thursday to declaring for the first time that the state constitution recognizes abortion rights,”  wrote the Associated Press’s John Hanna Thursday.

Indeed, the questions from the majority of Kansas Supreme Court Justices hearing oral arguments in the most important pro-life case in Kansas history, seemed focused on how—not whether– an abortion right will be framed to support a lower court injunction on dismemberment abortions.

Only one Justice, Caleb Stegall, repeatedly probed the problems of the Court “discovering” new abortion protection that, in effect, gives constitutional rights to some groups and not others (the unborn).

SB 95, which Kansas enacted in 2015, is titled the Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act. The measure prohibits abortions in which the fully-formed unborn child is torn apart with sharp metal tools, bit by bit, while still alive, inside her mother.

Unfortunately, the justices, the media, and those of us in the audience, never heard any description of an actual dismemberment abortion yesterday.

Instead, according to Janet Crepps, an abortion attorney for the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), women are the victims under SB 95. She told the justices that second-trimester non-dismemberment abortion methods were “experimental” and “painful” for women and an affront to their “privacy, autonomy, dignity and bodily integrity.”

Abortion atty,
Janet Crepps

And she said that with a straight face.

Solicitor General Stephen McAllister argued that abortion supporters want the Kansas Supreme Court to engage in a brand of judicial activism that ignored the text of the state’s constitution and the history of pro-life laws enacted in Kansas.

“If the people of Kansas want to create a constitutional right to abortion, they have a ready mechanism for doing so — the constitutional amendment process. Kansans have not been shy about utilizing it,” he explained.

CRR’s Crepps urged the justices to declare a “fundamental” right to abortion even broader than that created by Roe v. Wade, based on a “liberty” interest which has “evolved” during the nation’s “march to progress.”

She clearly aimed to undermine the “compelling” state interests that justify abortion restrictions and that are currently honored by the U.S. Supreme Court. These interests, cited in the 2007 Gonzales ruling upholding a ban on partial-birth abortions, include:

  1. That the State may use its regulatory power to bar certain procedures and substitute others, all in furtherance of its legitimate interests in regulating the medical profession.
  2. That the government may use its voice and its regulatory authority to show its profound respect for the life within the woman.

When questioned when the unborn merited constitutional rights, Crepps replied that those rights “attached” at birth.

At birth. That did not make its way into the Associated Press story, nor any other story in the Kansas media.

Abortion up until birth is an extreme position that very, very few Americans agree with.

A long line of discussion ensued on how that position can be reconciled with Kansas laws, including the fetal homicide statute [Alexa’s Law] allowing for prosecution of crimes resulting in the murder of unborn babies. Justice Stegall asked Crepps:

“How can we convict somebody of murder of an entity that has no inalienable rights, has no right to life? How can that be consistent? How can the state do that?”

Two of the justices seemed more concerned that without a state abortion “right,” women “would be forced to give birth” and pregnant women could “lose their lives.”

Lost in the discussion is the fact that abortion regulations in Kansas have always allowed “life of the mother” exceptions.

rally dismemberment sign

2015 Rally for Life urges ban on dismemberment abortions

The painful and barbaric nature of dismemberment abortion –violence that, under Kansas law, is not tolerated for pets and livestock in Kansas—was ignored.

Mc Allister warned the justices that the case before them does not require the drastic judicial activism that Crepps promotes, and that was exhibited in Roe v Wade, causing “more than four decades of havoc.

He closed his remarks with a quote from Justice Bryon White’s dissent in Roe: “As an exercise of raw judicial power, the Court perhaps has authority to do what it does today, but, in my view, its judgment is an improvident and extravagant exercise of the power of judicial review that the Constitution extends to this Court.”

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crying-baby-say-no-to-activist-judgesKansans for Life applauds all those pro-lifers who cast votes yesterday to oust activist justices on our state Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.  Sadly, we missed the mark.

And while all the targeted activists on the highest two courts kept their jobs, they only held on by small margins. KFL executive director, Mary Kay Culp said,

“For now we can only hope the judges have learned a powerful lesson to stop ‘legislating from the bench’… especially as they face the most important abortion lawsuit in our state’s history.”

KFL’s priority message, “reject all but Stegall,” focused on retention elections for five current Supreme Court Justices. Justices stand for retention every six years and cannot remain on the bench if they fall below 50% approval. Yesterday, voters only gave 55-56% support to Justices Lawton Nuss, Marla Luckert, Dan Biles and Carol Beier.

caleb

Justice Caleb Stegall

Justice Caleb Stegall received 71% support, which was deserved. Appointed in 2014, he has not been part of any Supreme Court abortion animus, nor was he part of all the decisions that were soundly overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Chief Justice Nuss– who is the only sitting Justice to have ever been admonished by the ethics oversight committee– has lost the most public support over the last twelve years. In 2004, retention figures were: Nuss 82.2%,  Luckert, 76.5% and Beier, 76.4%. Biles was not yet on the court.

In 2010, after KFL called for pro-lifers to remove activist judges under the slogan,”Fire Beier,” the approval rating of all four justices dropped to 62-63%.

In 2012, our top judges began their own public relations campaign, in which they traversed the state to “connect” with the people. Members of both the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals have since made hundreds of town hall educational presentations. They also have been the beneficiaries of pro-retention media campaigns and at least $540,000.00 in television ads this year (see here).

Appellate Judge Kathryn Gardner

Appellate Judge Kathryn Gardner

When it comes to abortion, the recent history of the Kansas Supreme Court has not been fair and impartial.(see here) They have twice ducked ruling on the most important  abortion lawsuit in our state’s history– the ban on dismemberment-method abortions— until they could get past the Nov. 8th retention elections.  In the interim, the Court of Appeals completely botched their ruling. The Court of Appeals was hopelessly divided on whether the state may ban brutal and inhumane procedures done on fully-formed unborn children.

Our KFL judicial initiative had a modest budget without funds for television or drive-time radio. We activated the grass roots and hosted the Better Judges for Kansas website.  Included were essays (archived here) explaining abortion bias in the courts and how the court rulings are exasperatingly untethered from the state constitution.

Appellate Judge David E. Bruns

Appellate Judge David E. Bruns

Our secondary goal was ousting judges on the Court of Appeals who had indefensibly sided with abortion attorney’s invention of a state right to abortion, even broader than that of Roe v Wade.

The Court of Appeals is up for retention every  four years. The judges up for retention Nov. 8 who claim our 1859 founders wanted to protect abortion are Steve Leben, G.Joseph Pierron, Karen Arnold-Burger and G. Gordon Atcheson. These four felt the public’s disapproval when they received only 59-60% support, down from 71-74% in 2012.

The two Court of Appeals judges on Tuesday’s ballot who had properly let our Kansas Constitution be their yardstick on the abortion issue were David Bruns and Kathryn Gardner. The public gave Bruns 72% support (75% in 2012) and Gardner, 73% (first election since appointment).

Our Kansas Bill of Rights rests on “the right to life,” yet there is still much to be done to protect the unborn in Kansas. We ask all those who joined with us on the issue of judicial retention to stay engaged and be encouraged, as the truth is on the side of life!

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