Kansans for Fair Courts is about you and your rights. We are a nonpartisan coalition of thousands of Kansans who are working to keep politicians out of the courtroom and ensure fair and impartial courts that protect the constitutional rights of every Kansan. To do that, we are working to preserve a system for selecting judges based on their qualifications, character, and ability rather than on politics — and to keep on the bench judges and justices selected that way.
Our democracy was founded on the principle of three equal branches of government — two elected by the people and the third, the court, responsible to the rule of law and the constitution. It’s a system of checks and balances that prevents any branch of government from dominating the others and imposing tyranny on the people. Simply put, it’s a system that forces government to be accountable to the people and the constitution — not politicians and well-connected special interest groups.
But in Kansas, that principle is under fire.
In 2013, Gov. Sam Brownback set his sights on the courts, calling for changes to the way judges and justices are selected to give him more influence — so he could pack the courts with his supporters more loyal to a political ideology than to the constitution and the law.
Governor Brownback successfully urged the legislature to replace a merit-based system for selecting judges to the Kansas Court of Appeals, the second highest court in the state, with a purely political model that gives the governor full control of the process. And he has called repeatedly for an amendment to the Kansas constitution that would do the same for the selection of justices to the Kansas Supreme Court.
At the same time, Brownback’s allies in the legislature have proposed more than 55 bills designed to retaliate against the court for decisions they didn’t like and to reconfigure the court so as to get decisions more in line with their political agenda. They even tried to cut off all funding for Kansas courts if the Kansas Supreme Court refused to rule in cases as the politicians wanted the court to rule. It is the first time in the history of the country when two branches of government tried to defund the third, placing the safety and security of every Kansan in jeopardy. If Brownback and his allies in the legislature had succeeded, every courthouse across the state would have been shuttered.
It’s a blatant attempt to grab political power that threatens the very rights all Kansans enjoy under the constitution. It hasn’t yet succeeded, but this election cycle, Brownback and his allies are working to oust sitting Kansas Supreme Court justices so that he can appoint a majority — five of the seven members — of the court. It has never happened before in Kansas and it needs to be stopped now.
And that’s why Kansans for Fair Courts is working to keep politics out of our courts.
We are working to retain all five Kansas Supreme Court justices and the Court of Appeals judges who are standing for retention this year who have been targeted by Gov. Brownback and his politician friends. And, we’re working to preserve the merit-selection system that put them on the bench and gave us fair and impartial courts that uphold the constitution and protect the rights of every Kansan.
Kansans for Fair Courts is an initiative of the Kansas Values Institute, a policy and grassroots advocacy organization committed to educating, equipping, and mobilizing Kansans to take action on a variety of topics that form the bedrock of the Kansas spirit. For more information, please visit www.KansasValuesInstitue.org.