Opinion Columns & Blogs

Jack Focht: Retain all the Supreme Court justices


Richard Peckham recently advocated that four of the five Kansas Supreme Court justices standing for retention this year not be retained (March 29 Opinion).

He neglected to reveal that he is one of the attorneys for Phill Kline, the former attorney general who, despite several losses, is still fighting the suspension of his law license by the state of Kansas.

Beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Peckham said the Supreme Court has a “disregard for the constitution.” In its recent decision on school funding, the court found the Legislature had not lived up to its constitutional mandate to “make suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state.” In other words, the Supreme Court upheld the Kansas Constitution and the right of Kansas schoolchildren to get a decent education.

Peckham’s advocacy notwithstanding, it is pretty clear the Supreme Court is the body upholding the constitution while the Legislature shows disregard for the constitution.

Peckham went on to accuse the court of improperly suspending Kline’s law license. Peckham seems to think Kline deserves no punishment for intentionally misleading a grand jury and lying to government officials to get access to information he had no right to in pursuit of his political agenda. The U.S. Supreme Court even refused to hear an appeal of the suspension. Once again, the Kansas Supreme Court acted to protect the rights of individual Kansans from an overreaching politician.

Finally, Peckham accused the Supreme Court of a “lack of skill … in negotiating with the representatives of the people.” The Supreme Court can’t negotiate with a Legislature that is pursuing a political agenda at odds with the Kansas Constitution. The Kansas Supreme Court’s job is to uphold the constitution and protect our rights as Kansans when the Legislature overreaches.

The Supreme Court is designed to be a check and a balance on the governor and Legislature. The Legislature threatened to cut the court’s funding if the court upheld Kansas children’s constitutional right to a decent education. That’s not negotiable.

This Supreme Court functions in a fair and impartial manner in the tradition of the Kansas court system. It bases its rulings on the constitution and the rule of law in protecting the rights of every Kansan. Peckham and his political cronies don’t like anyone pointing out that the Legislature has been ignoring the constitution. They don’t have the votes to amend the constitution, so they seek to remove the court whose rulings they don’t like.

We should retain all the justices to the Kansas Supreme Court and stop the political interference with the court.

Jack Focht is a Wichita attorney.