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Posts Tagged ‘Kansas Court of Appeals’

smaller baby in bronze judicial scale

Judges, protect the unborn!

Just before the holiday weekend, key arguments were filed with the state Supreme Court of Kansas on behalf of abortionists who want to continue dismembering living unborn babies limb from limb until they bleed to death, and from attorneys for the state Attorney General’s office who are defending the state’s ban on dismemberment abortions.

Last April 2015, Kansas was the first state to pass “The Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act.” Four other states have now enacted this law –Oklahoma, West Virginia, Mississippi, and Alabama. The bill is on the governor’s desk in Louisiana and expected to be signed perhaps today.

The federal constitutionality of this ban has not been tested, but it was drafted as the logical consequence of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2007 Gonzales ruling upholding a federal ban on heinous partial-birth abortion method abortions.  Gonzales was based on the reasoning that abortionists’ preferences cannot trump compelling governmental interests in regulating the medical profession and voicing respect for human life and dignity.

Hodes & Nauser

Abortionists Nauser & Hodes

BACKGROUND, KANSAS LAWSUIT
Attorneys from the New York City-based Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) challenged the Kansas dismemberment ban in state court last June on behalf of Kansas City suburban father-daughter abortionists, Herb Hodes and Traci Nauser. They asserted that a hitherto-undiscovered Kansas constitutional foundation exists for abortions—one that precludes banning dismemberment method abortions.

 Judge Hendricks

Judge Hendricks

Shawnee District Court Judge Larry Hendricks found the novel CRR position so appealing that within moments of the oral arguments last July, he imposed an injunction preventing the ban from going into effect.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt sought immediately to undo that injunction with the Kansas state Court of Appeals. (see documents here) However the Court of Appeals rendered a split ruling January 22, allowing these abortions to continue unabated.

AG Derek Schmidt

AG Derek Schmidt

Both sides appealed to the state Supreme Court. (see AG supplemental filing and abortionist supplemental filing) In addition to arguing that the trial judge’s conclusion was in error, Schmidt’s office argued that the appellate ruling was –in fact—actually a 7-6-1 decision and is hopelessly confusing. The state Supreme Court has since agreed to review the matter but the hearing date has not yet been set.

NATIONAL IMPACT
If the claim that abortion is grounded in the state Constitution succeeds, the strategy will undoubtedly be used in every other state. Thus these new legal filings last week are of the utmost importance not just to Kansas but to all states. Of paramount concern is that credence will be given to these abortion attorneys’ claims:

  1. that a state Constitution must be contorted to contain an even more radical basis for unlimited abortion than that of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v Wade ruling;
  2. that the Kansas Bill of Rights language about “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” (that many states share) must elevate woman’s “self-determination” and “decisional autonomy” and ignore the distinct, separate rights of the fully-human unborn child; and
  3. that Courts must be emboldened to ignore plain reading standards and accept “evolving” reasons to invalidate duly-passed legislation.
KS court appeals

Kansas Court of Appeals

On Jan . 22, 2016, seven of the 14 members of the Kansas state Court of Appeals firmly rejected those claims. They acknowledged what seven other appellate judges ignored—that there is an unborn child’s right to life at stake.

“Because the Kansas Constitution provides no substantive due process right to abortion, our legislature is free to restrict abortion procedures to the extent it finds it appropriate.”

Furthermore, they rightly concluded there is no right to abortion “expressly found in the text” of the state Constitution and that “it should not be done by judicial decree.”

Ks Supreme Court

Kansas Supreme Court

As the Kansas Supreme Court begins consideration of this issue, they:

  • should refuse to take the pro-abortion activist stance which invents abortion protection that did not exist in the Kansas pre-Civil War Constitution, nor afterward, and
  • should properly stay within its judicial boundaries and affirm duly-passed laws that protect tiny unborn girls and boys from inhumane torture.

We can only hope and pray this Court will do the right thing.

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Ks Supreme Ct

The Kansas Supreme Court

Filed electronically after 5p.m. tonight, Monday, the Kansas Supreme Court has granted review of the appeal by the Kansas Attorney General in the matter of the Kansas Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act. (documents here)

The hearing has not yet been set and both sides will file supplemental briefs to be submitted within 30 days. Here is the  summary of litigation thus far:

Pro-life Gov. Sam Brownback signed SB 95, the dismemberment method ban, on April 7, 2015 after it passed 31-9 in the Senate and 98-26 in the House. The law is not in effect.

The Overland Park Center for Women’s Health (CWH), the office of father -daughter abortion duo, Herb Hodes and Traci Nauser, filed suit against the ban in federal court and won a temporary injunction from Shawnee District Court Judge Larry Hendricks June 25, 2015.  Judge Hendricks adopted the arguments of the abortion attorneys hook, line and sinker.

Attorney General Derek Schmidt filed an appeal of that ruling, claiming that it is “a fantasy” that the Kansas state constitution of 1859 protects a right to abortion (much less one that upholds gruesome dismemberment of living, well-formed unborn children!).

The appeal was taken up by the Kansas Court of Appeals when the Kansas Supreme Court refused to intervene. On Jan. 22, 2016, the appellate court delivered a split ruling which meant the lower court temporary injunction would be upheld.

The Attorney General again filed an appeal, this time asking the Kansas Supreme Court to expeditiously review the appellate decision, asserting that

the Court of Appeals wasn’t truly split, but rather had ruled 7-6-1, finding there is no protection for abortion under the Kansas Constitution.

The Kansas Supreme Court needs to move expeditiously for several reasons, urges the A.G. filing; two other lawsuits filed by CWH (in 2011 and 2013) are lagging in state court and would be directly impacted by a decision about this so-called fundamental state right to abortion.

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AG Derek Schmidt

AG Schmidt

On Monday, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt filed an appeal with the Kansas Supreme Court, asking for an expedited ruling on the question of whether the Kansas Constitution embodies a right to abortion.

A  7-7 ruling from the Court of Appeals on Jan. 22  maintained a district court’s temporary injunction against the Kansas Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Act.

However, Schmidt  asserts that properly understood,  the 7-7 tie is really a 7-6-1 ruling,  thus denying any state constitutional right to abortion.

The appeal (ironically titled a “prayer” in legal jargon) argues that the heart of the Court of Appeals ruling is whether the state Bill of Rights mimics the due process protection of the federal Fourteenth Amendment that is the basis for Roe v Wade.

  • Seven appellate judges (in the dissent, penned by Chief Judge Thomas Malone) held that the state Bill of Rights does not provide “Roe” protection,
  • six judges (in the ruling written by Judge Steve Leben) said the state Bill of Rights does provide “Roe” protection by extension, and
  • one concurrence (by Judge G. Gordon Atcheson) conceded that the state Bill of Rights’ Article 1 really doesn’t match up with “Roe” but no matter because abortion is protected in a stronger way.

    Judge Atcheson

    Judge Atcheson

Judge Atcheson wrote, “Article 1 provides a constitutional protection [for abortion] that has no direct analog in the federal Constitution… [it] effectuates self-determination consistent with an evolving and ever more enlightened understanding of humanity across both race and gender.”

He also wrote, “a woman’s right of self-determination, as established in Article 1, takes precedence [over a fetus] incapable of free-will or self-determination,” and “I cannot infer a particular legislative purpose or governmental interest advanced in Senate Bill 95 [the dismemberment ban].”

Truly the abortion protection that Judge Atcheson wishes to be found in Kansas’ 1859 Bill of Rights is broader than Roe and –if agreed to by the Kansas Supreme Court—poses a threat to all existent pro-life laws in this state.

On the other hand, the six appellate judges who want a state right to be an extension of Roe implicitly would examine pro-life laws under the “undue burden” standard, which is more workable than if abortion is declared fundamentally protected and laws have to pass “strict scrutiny.”

Because the appellate court really left all Kansas courts adrift in confusion, Schmidt urges the Kansas Supreme Court to take up the issue. Until it is resolved, it will continue to be raised in existent and future lawsuits, he argued.

At issue is a compelling constitutional question of “first impression.” That is something that ultimately only the Kansas Supreme Court can resolve.

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Hon. Thomas Malone

Appellate Chief Judge Malone

On the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Kansas pro-lifers groaned when they heard that the state Court of Appeals had tied 7-7, meaning that a lower court’s ruling would stand and, with it, a temporary injunction on our historic ban on dismemberment abortions.” An appeal is being quickly drafted by the office of Attorney General Derek Schmidt to the state Supreme Court.

The “Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act” became law in Kansas in April, just days before Oklahoma enacted the law. The Act prohibits one specific method of abortion—a torturous, piece by piece, dismemberment of a living unborn child.

Shawnee District Court Judge Larry Hendricks was the first judge in the nation to review the matter. Hendricks so much loved the abortion attorneys’ arguments (inventing a previously undiscovered fundamental right to abortion in the 1859 Kansas Constitution) that he had them pen his temporary order for injunction! (Didn’t know judges could do that, did you?)

After the state appealed Hendricks’ injunction, all 14 members of the Court of Appeals heard arguments from both sides on December 9.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs (a father and daughter team of abortionists) asserted that Article 1 and 2 of the Bill of Rights of the state Constitution expressly contained a liberty right to abortion which must be interpreted the way the due process section of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was interpreted in Roe v Wade.

Seven appellate judges, in the dissent authored by Chief Judge Thomas Malone, used careful reasoning and a strict constructionist approach to opine that there is no ‘independent state-law right to abortion” and “there is nothing in the text or history of Articles 1 and 2 …to lead this court to conclude that these provisions were intended to guarantee a right to abortion.”

Chief Malone’s dissent notes that the Kansas Bill of Right predates the Fourteenth Amendment and to accept “such a broad reading” of the Bill of Rights, which “does not contain the same language” as the Fourteenth Amendment and “was ratified under different historical circumstances, would go well beyond the apparent intent of its framers.”

As the Attorney General defense team has consistently argued, abortion in Kansas was outlawed– even before the state bill of rights was ratified— and broadly criminalized thereafter except to prevent the death of the mother in an emergency.

Malone’s dissent highlights the essential tension, “[A]bortion places the pregnant women’s liberty interest directly at odd with the unborn child’s right to life. The balancing of these interests is a matter of public policy” which is under “the charge of the state legislature, not the court.” Moreover,

“The proper question to ask and answer is what rights the makers and adopters of the instrument intended to protect…not what rights today’s judges would like to see in our state constitution.”

Appellate Judge Leben

Judge Leben

The other half of the Court of Appeals does not subscribe to judicial restraint and agrees with the Hendricks ruling. Six of them united behind an opinion written by Judge Steve Leben. They say that Articles 1 & 2 of the Bill of Rights are sufficiently equivalent to the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Atcheson

Judge Atcheson

JUDICIAL ACTIVISM
In a separate concurrence affirming the Hendricks ruling, Judge G. Gordon Atcheson distinguishes his support from the Leben opinion. He finds that Article 1 and 2 provide even greater protection for abortion than the Fourteenth Amendment. And this is a case study in rhetoric over legal analysis.

For example, Judge Atcheson refers to the dismemberment of an unborn child as if it is merely “unaesthetic,” while (incorrectly) asserting that the state cannot prohibit a barbaric abortion procedure. He wrote, “The government cannot impose upon an essential right because some exercise of the right may be unaesthetic or even repulsive to some people.

He ignores the example that horrific partial-birth abortions are illegal, as upheld in the 2007 Gonzales ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court, but that may be because he disdains it so much: “Women have a right protected in Article 1 to exercise reproductive freedom as an essential component of their self-determination. To suggest otherwise simply inflates that women are flighty creatures in constant need of guidance and protection to be supplied either by menfolk or, in this case, a meddlesome government … That sort of paternalistic claptrap animates the majority opinion in Gonzales v. Carhart.”

Another of the examples of Judge Atcheson’s pro-abortion feminism: “Although the general societal and legal acceptance of gender equality hasn’t yet reached every quarter, Article 1 doesn’t bend to the obdurate views of those who would cling to the days when white men were the acknowledged masters of the realm.”

The caliber of Judge Atcheson’s writing and the extreme reach taken in the Judge Leben group opinion are distressing. The state of Kansas defense team has consistently maintained that the notion that there exists a state constitutional right to abortion “is a fantasy.” Half of the appellate court had the wisdom to recognize it.

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APpellate court

KS Court of Appeals

The Kansas Court of Appeals majority ruling Friday was a 7-7 tie which means the Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act is not voided, but the lower court injunction remains in place and the ban is not in effect.

Seven judges support one appalling method of tearing apart LIVING well-formed unborn babies –due to the novel claim that abortion is included in our state constitutional bill of rights. This is an activist, offensive ruling not reflective of sound analysis.

Seven judges wrote in dissent, disagreeing that the dismemberment ban must stay blocked. Those seven judges included two appointed under pro-abortion Gov. Sebelius, showing that the recognition of the state’s right to prohibit an unbelievably heinous and barbaric abortion method –as the U.S. Supreme Court in the 2007 Gonzales ruling clearly did– is an issue beyond partisan labels.

The resulting split ruling affirms the recent improvement in the nomination of Appellate judges and underscores Kansans for Life’s promotion of reform of the nomination process for state Supreme Court. .

Of the 14 total appellate court members, the newest member was picked with the “federal model” protocol (Kathryn Gardner, part of the dissent) while 13 were picked under the “Missouri plan” method in which:

  • nominees are chosen secretly within a commission whose majority is chosen by a disproportionately tiny group of registered attorneys. The die is cast by the commission chief, chosen last time by 2,500 attorneys–not at all proportionally representative of the 1.7 million registered Kansas voters.
  • nominees forwarded to the governor are chosen with various motivations by the commission with a nod to the policy preferences of the sitting governor (and candidates with recorded donations to the governor), but the choice is forced on the governor, for if he/she rejects all three, the Chief Justice gets to pick one.

Kansans for Life appreciates any judge who respects the rule of law. Our support for judicial selection reform is not about suggesting that it is impossible for a “Missouri-plan” judge to arrive at a correct result– that would be absurd.

Rather, we support reform because increased democratic accountability on the front end of the process builds societal respect for the judiciary. On balance, that is likely to result, over the long term, in more judges who will exercise judicial restraint.

KFL has held this position in support of judicial selection reform since 2005, under Gov. Sebelius– and thus is independent of the existence of a Governor’s policy on abortion because the public accountability rests in the Senate confirmation process.

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stop dismembering posterA temporary injunction will remain in place against SB 95,  the Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act, after the Kansas state Court of Appeals ruled today in a  7-7 tie in the matter.

The Act bars a gruesome method of abortion in which a well-developed, living, unborn child is torn apart piece by piece with sharp metal tools.

Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s office will continue to rigorously defend this law.

This outrageous ruling needs to be heard by the state Supreme Court without delay.

The law was designed to pass muster with the U.S. Supreme Court; abortion attorneys apparently recognized that fact, thus choosing to file suit in state court, seeking the creation of a state right to abortion.

The dismemberment ban was blocked June 25 with a temporary injunction from Shawnee District Court Judge Larry Hendricks. The lawsuit was filed and argued by the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of the Overland Park Center for Women’s Health that had previously sued two other Kansas pro-life laws that have not proceeded to trial.

Judge Hendricks completely accepted the abortion industry claim that the basis for a federal “right” to an abortion also is found in the Kansas constitution. Hendricks misstated federal jurisprudence on abortion, and ignored the key 2007 U.S. Supreme Court Gonzales ruling, which said:

Casey [the 1992 Supreme Court decision] does not allow a doctor to choose the abortion method he or she might prefer …[and physicians] are not entitled to ignore regulations that direct them to use reasonable alternative procedures.”

Even pro-abortion justices of the U. S. Supreme Court have acknowledged that the dismemberment of a living unborn child is as brutal and inhumane a method of abortion as the partial-birth abortion procedure, which is now illegal throughout the country.

It was a valid act –both legally and morally–for the Kansas legislature to curb dismemberment abortions.Kansans were outraged to learn of this heinous method of shredding apart innocent unborn children,” said Kansans for Life executive director, Mary Kay Culp.

Kansans for Life submitted a friend of the court brief for the appeal.

SB 95 is supported by U.S. Supreme Court language that upholds the state’s right

  • to show respect for the developing unborn and
  • to insure the integrity of the medical profession which it regulates.

Kansans for Life is confident this law will eventually be upheld—mirroring the long, but successful partial-birth abortion battle in which the U.S. Supreme Court eventually acknowledged the validity of pro-life legislation.

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CWH, the father-daughter duo

Kansas’ father-daughter abortionists fight to keep dismemberment method

Hopefully, you are following with deep interest the legal battle surrounding the Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act, enacted in Kansas April 7 and, less than a week later, in Oklahoma. Naturally, pro-abortionists are challenging both laws in court.

The Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act, is a law that prohibits the horrific abortion method in which a living unborn child in her mother’s womb is ripped apart into pieces by an abortionist using sharp metal tools.

Kansas abortionists are waging their attack in the state court system. In a highly unusual move that indicates the national importance of the proceeding, the entire 14-member Kansas Court of Appeals will hear oral argument on the issue next Wednesday. (see more here)

Not since the epic campaign to end gruesome partial-birth abortions have pro-lifers had such an opportunity to provide the Supreme Court with a reason to curb abortion on demand.

The Act outlaws an immeasurably painful and barbaric procedure and bases its legal foundation on the High Court’s very own words (emphasis added):

“[W]hen it has a rational basis to act, and it does not impose an undue burden, 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 in order to promote respect for life, including life of the unborn.” [Gonzales v Carhart, 550 U.S. at 158]

The “rational basis” for the Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act is simple: dismemberment abortions are repugnant and unacceptable in a civilized society. Kansans asserted their right to curb medical abuse and show respect for the Unborn.

All abortions are not precluded by the Act– only one method—and therefore, there is no “undue burden” on a woman’s “right” to abortion.

However, abortionists are hoping against hope that the Gonzales Court didn’t really mean that the state can regulate abortion and that the nebulous term “undue burden” means anything that inhibits abortionists’ preferences.

Judge Hendricks

Judge Larry Hendricks used wrong evaluation standard

LOWER COURT EMBRACES ABORTION CLAIMS
Were they allowed to choose their own judge, Kansas’ father-daughter abortionists– Herb Hodes and Traci Nauser at the Center for Women’s Health– could not have done better than Shawnee District Court Judge Larry Hendricks. On June 25th, at the first hearing on the dismemberment bill, Judge Hendricks hardly paused for even a second after oral argument ended before slapping an injunction on the Act for a variety of wrong reasons.

Lawyers for Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt adamantly maintain that Judge Hendricks’ most fundamental error was failing to assume at the outset that the Act was valid. When “rational basis” laws like the Act are examined, the standard is to PRESUME validity and then attorneys for the challengers must prove to the court that the Act is not valid.

This principle was clearly reiterated this week in a different abortion lawsuit by noted 7th Circuit Appellate Judge Daniel Manion (see here). Manion also points out that it is only for abortion—unlike all other areas of medicine—that a practitioner may bring a suit on behalf of a patient solely because the physician finds a regulation cumbersome!

Yet that’s exactly what’s happening in Kansas. Abortionists want to continue doing dismemberment abortions in their office for as much as $2,000 each. And because alternative abortion techniques are less profitable, they advance a public propaganda campaign that “the alternatives lack proof of improved safety.”

“DOCTOR-PATIENT RELATIONSHIP”
ACOG (the American College of Obstetrician-Gynecologists) is strongly pro-abortion and has a legislative policy that opposes any state “interference” with medical recommendations. They especially oppose mandates for pre-abortion ultrasounds and cancer warnings.

ACOG logoACOG filed a ‘friend of the court’ brief for the Center for Women’s Health– as did a group of one dozen abortionists and abortion-referring practitioners (all but one from the Kansas City area). The singular message of both briefs was that a ban on the dismemberment procedure would have “adverse impact on the doctor-patient relationship.”

But how absurd is the use of the word “relationship” in the abortion context? What kind of a relationship is it when the mother is not told that her son or daughter will be shredded while she is sedated? What kind of relationship is it when the littlest patient is ignored and called a “pregnancy that will be removed?”

Also consider that the so-called relationship is really a one-way decision by “a highly qualified specialist” (according to the Kansas practitioners’ brief!) who insists that the Legislature may not weigh in on grizzly, inhumane abortion methods.

The Kansas district court has misinterpreted the Gonzales standard and invented a state right to abortion. Let’s hope the Kansas Court of Appeals rectifies it.

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