Picking judges – For more than a half century the Kansas nonpartisan court plan has stood as one of the state’s most responsible and respected institutions. Judges selected under the plan have earned the reputation of ruling impartially and sticking closely to the law and evidence. Importantly, the plan shields the justice system from the raw politics that has stained many judges picked by partisan means. Now this model is being dismantled at the hands of Gov. Sam Brownback and the Kansas Legislature. This attack need not be tolerated. Voters who want to restore integrity to Kansas justice have a powerful tool: the ballot box.
The Kansas Legislature knows what to do when it passes a law that is likely to be unpopular with cities, counties and other public institutions: Pass another law curtailing their ability to complain about it. Earlier this session, the Legislature approved a measure requiring local governments either to allow concealed weapons on their public properties or prove they had beefed up security enough to ensure residents’ safety. Possibly sensing that local governments would complain about the cost of an unfunded mandate from Topeka – one that requires compliance with the state’s philosophy or a heavy investment in staff and security equipment – the Legislature went to work on another bill to outlaw the spending of state tax dollars lobbying for or against gun-control policies. Protecting a right guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution doesn’t justify trying to limit protections offered elsewhere in the Constitution.