Kansas Republican Bill Would Give GOP Power To Impeach Judges Who Disagree With Them

If Kansas Republicans have their way, they will have the power to impeach state Supreme Court judges who disagree with the conservative agenda.

A Kansas Senate committee has already recommended SB439 for passage so it can be voted on by the full Senate, which is controlled by conservatives.

According to the Kansas City Star, the bill “would make “attempting to usurp the power” of the Legislature or the executive branch grounds for impeachment.”

In other words, if a judge rules a law passed by the Republican-controlled state legislature unconstitutional, Republicans would legally have the power to then impeach that judge and replace him or her with a judge who will rule the way Republicans want them to rule.

Governor Sam Brownback and his Republican cohorts in the statehouse have had their schemes to defund public schools foiled by the state Supreme Court in recent years after the GOP tried to use the funds to pay for a disastrous budget shortfall created when Brownback gave rich people a massive tax cut.

So far, the state Supreme Court has blocked such a move as unconstitutional since the Kansas Constitution plainly states that the “legislature shall provide for intellectual, educational, vocational and scientific improvement by establishing and maintaining public schools, educational institutions and related activities which may be organized and changed in such manner as may be provided by law.”

Furthermore, the Kansas Constitution says the “legislature shall make suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state.”

That means the Kansas Supreme Court has made the right call by denying Brownback and Republicans the ability to screw over the public school system to benefit the wealthy.

But if Republicans pass this bill into law, they would be able to overthrow the judicial branch so they can pass whatever laws they want even if they are unconstitutional. They would be effectively rigging the court in their favor.

And Kansas Republicans haven’t exactly made this a secret.

The Star reports:

Impeachment has “been a little-used tool” to challenge judges who strike down new legislation, said Republican Sen. Dennis Pyle, a sponsor of the measure. “Maybe it needs to be oiled up a little bit or sharpened a little bit.”

“Courts have the ability to harm society with their decisions,” GOP state Senator Mitch Holmes claimed in defense of the bill according to the Topeka Capitol Journal. “And impeachment was what our founders intended to be a check and a balance on an unchecked system, or what has evolved into an unchecked system.”

But once again, Republicans are wrong. Not only is their bill unconstitutional on the grounds that the state constitution does not list disagreement as a legitimate reason for impeachment, it would make the court system a puppet institution with the sole purpose of allowing Republicans to do whatever they want in the legislative and executive branches without a judicial branch that can check their power. Basically, it is the executive and legislative branches that would become an “unchecked system.”

Article 2 of the state constitution clearly states grounds for impeachment.

The governor and all other officers under this constitution, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.

So unless Republicans want to literally make disagreeing with them a crime, which would violate the First Amendment and the independence of the judiciary, they would be well-advised to trash this bill and never let it see the light of day again.

This is the exact kind of government overreach that Republicans have hypocritically whined about for decades, and yet here they are trying to overthrow the state Supreme Court so that Brownback can stack it with judges who will do his bidding. Just imagine if this scheme actually worked. How long would it be before Republicans try the exact same thing at the federal level so that they can keep the court conservative forever? This is serious power play that needs to be squashed by the people of Kansas before they no longer have a fair court system to rely on.


 

Featured image via LiberalBias.com