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. The move was designed to give him more influence so he could pack the courts with his supporters — more loyal to political ideology than to the constitution and the law.
Gov. Sam 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 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 issue rulings the politicians wanted. 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 these anti-court forces do not stop. We must remain vigilant.
Kansans for Fair Courts is working to keep politics out of our courts.
We are working to preserve the merit-selection system that gave us fair and impartial courts, which uphold the constitution and protect the rights of every Kansan.
Kansans for Fair Courts is an initiative of the Kansas Values Institute. The institute is 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.