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Kansas Lawmakers’ Budget Links Court Funding to Judicial Decision

Wall Street Journal
Joe Palazzolo
Tuesday, May 19, 2015

"A budget advanced by Kansas legislators would eliminate funding for state courts if a judge strikes down a controversial law passed last year.

Republican senators and representatives agreed Monday on a two-year judicial budget that would self-destruct if any court blocks or overturns a 2014 law that stripped the Kansas Supreme Court of some administrative authority, giving local courts control over their own budgets and leadership.

A lawsuit pending in Shawnee County District Court, in northeastern Kansas, says the 2014 law violates the Kansas Constitution. The bill approved Monday says that if the law is “stayed or is held to be invalid or unconstitutional,” the other provisions including funding for the courts, 'are hereby declared to be null and void.'

. . . 

Richard E. Levy, a constitutional law professor at the University of Kansas, said a Kansas court could rule that the language in the budget bill is not binding, but it is unclear what would happen if the legislature refuses to recognize that ruling as binding in turn.

Mr. Levy said the budget bill runs headlong into constitutional problems, purporting to tell the courts what they must do and potentially defunding a co-equal branch of government.

'Right now relations between the judicial and political branches of the state are not cordial,' he said."