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Kansas Supreme Court strikes down judicial selection law, putting funding for courts in jeopardy

Source: 
Lawrence Journal-World
Author: 
Peter Hancock
Date: 
Wednesday, December 23, 2015

"In a case that threatens all funding for the entire state judicial branch, the Kansas Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down a new law that changes the way chief judges in the lower courts are selected.

In a 43-page opinion in the case of Solomon v. Kansas written by Justice Eric Rosen, the court upheld a lower court decision that said the new law violates the separation of powers doctrine as well as Article 3 of the state constitution, which gives the Supreme Court “general administrative authority over all courts in this state.”

That decision could put funding for the judicial branch in jeopardy because lawmakers passed a funding bill this year that includes what’s called a “nonseverability” clause that says if the judicial selection law is overturned, all funding for the courts for the next two years also becomes null and void.

...

Kansas University law professor Rick Levy said that pause averts an immediate constitutional crisis in Kansas.

'It will take another act, or inaction, by the Legislature to up the ante, I think, before we’re really in a crisis situation,' Levy said. 'At this point, since the budget can still be fixed before the loss of funds really kicks in, there’s no crisis yet.'

'On the other hand,' he said, 'if the Legislature comes back and says we’re not going to fix it, or says we’re going to re-pass a budget but we’re going to take retaliatory budget action of some kind, then that might make a difference.'”