New York Times: The Partisan Winds Aimed at Kansas’ Court


Kansas Republicans have started a campaign to purge a majority of judges from the State Supreme Court. That move has rightly prompted opposition from four former governors — two Republicans and two Democrats — who say that a fair and independent judiciary is under threat on the November ballot.


“We’ve seen an unprecedented assault on the judiciary for the past number of years,” said former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat. She and the other former governors, including Mike Hayden, a Republican, and John Carlin, a Democrat, began a campaign this week to stop the court purge.

Judges are particularly vulnerable to the kind of attacks and distortions common in big-money political campaigns because of their independence — the very quality that is key to maintaining the rule of law.

Upon taking office in 2011, Mr. Brownback promised to succeed with “a red-state model” of the trickle-down myth that big upper-bracket tax cuts somehow promote economic growth. Instead, revenues plummeted, resulting in an education funding crisis that threatened schools with closings. Voters reacted to this sham last month in primary elections in which 14 Brownback loyalists were ousted from the Legislature by insurgent moderate Republicans, the rarest of political creatures.

Right-wing politicians who adhere to the fantasy that government is the problem, not the solution, are eager to politicize the courts. Kansas voters need to send a message that the independence of the judiciary will be firmly protected from extremist meddling.

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