GC Telegram: Vote 'yes': Kansas voters should block Brownback’s power grab.
Gov. Sam Brownback will do what it takes to gain a political edge.
He took control of the Legislature by helping to unseat state lawmakers who wouldn’t mindlessly follow his lead.
His quest to control the judicial branch also knows no bounds.
Since the governor took office in 2011, he’s been particularly frustrated by Kansas Supreme Court rulings on school finance.
His reckless 2012 income tax-cut scheme — the “March to Zero” that wrecked the state budget — involves slashing state-funded programs, education included, to pay for generous tax breaks for the wealthy. Brownback and fellow ultraconservatives also want to shift taxpayer support for K-12 public schools to private education options.
In response to citizens’ legal challenges over the run on their schools, the Supreme Court looked to the Kansas Constitution and ruled the state had to legally fund K-12 public education.
The Brownback-led Legislature fought back by targeting the entire state judiciary, to include 25 attempts to change the makeup of the courts or manner of choosing judges or justices; 25 attempts to alter or restrict the judicial branch’s independent authority over its operations; and five attempts to interfere in or get retribution for specific court decisions legislators don’t like.
It’s clear proof of the governor’s blatant power grab and disturbing disregard for an independent judiciary.
He’s now using various deceptions to convince voters to not retain Supreme Court justices in next Tuesday’s election, leaving him free to appoint his favorites to the bench.
Brownback has majority support on the Supreme Court nominating commission, which for every vacancy sends three names to the governor for final approval of one.
And keep in mind, the governor’s first Supreme Court selection was purely political: Caleb Stegall had served as Brownback’s chief counsel and an attorney for the Koch brothers’ political arm, Americans for Prosperity — drivers of the governor’s wretched economic experiment and other bad legislation.
With Brownback’s income tax-cut policy an abject failure, he would see remaking the Kansas Supreme Court as his legacy. Such sentiment is cause for alarm from any governor — especially one considered least popular in the nation.
Kansans can block Brownback’s attempt to influence the state for decades to come by voting “yes” to retain justices now in place.