Friday, January 8, 2016

Kansas Supreme Court Stands Up to Legislature // Brennan Center


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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