Kansas Supreme Court Stands Up to Legislature // Brennan Center

Source: Kansas Supreme Court Stands Up to Legislature // Brennan Center

The Kansas Supreme Court has been in a long struggle with the Legislature to achieve equitable funding for public schools.  The State has twice moved to directly interfere with the Courts.  In the first instance it assigned jurisdiction over school funding cases to a single three judge panel.  The legislators have continued to defy school funding mandates.

Most recently the legislators enacted a change in how the Chief Justice is selected by the Court.  The legislators provided that if that law was declared unconstitutional the judiciary’s funding would be stricken.  The Court has called that bluff, the Brennan Center reports

JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE


Kansas Supreme Court Finds Administrative Law Unconstitutional

On December 23, the Kansas Supreme Court found that a 2014 state law changing the selection mechanism for chief district judges was unconstitutional, writes Jonathan Shorman for The Topeka Capital-Journal

 
Plaintiff Chief Judge Larry Solomon, whose legal representation includes the Brennan Center for Justice, argued that the law was an unconstitutional violation of the separation-of-powers doctrine. The majority opinion stated that “the means of assigning positions responsible to the Supreme Court and charged with effectuating Supreme Court policy must be in the hands of the Supreme Court, not the legislature.” They also described the legislature as “assert[ing] significant control over a constitutionally established essential power of the Supreme Court” by enacting the law. 
 
A separate law passed in 2015, HB 2005, “strikes court funding if provisions of the 2014 law are struck down, which the Supreme Court did with [its] ruling.” As a result, the Supreme Court’s decision could “bring the state closer to a crisis over court funding.” However one of Judge Solomon’s attorneys, Pedro Irigonegaray, said that “an injunction against defunding the courts will remain in place until at least mid-March.” The Brennan Center and co-counsel also represent Kansas judges challenging the constitutionality of HB 2005.

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