PRESS RELEASE: Former Kansas Attorneys General Come to the Defense of Kansas Courts
TOPEKA - 10/17/16 Former Kansas Attorneys General Bob Stephan (R) and Steve Six (D) stood in front of the Kansas Judicial Center in Topeka today to defend Kansas Supreme Court justices from political attacks and to urge voters to retain justices Lawton Nuss, Marla Luckert, Carol Beier, Dan Biles and Caleb Stegall.
Stephan, who was Attorney General from 1979 to 1995, and Six, who served from 2008 to 2011, said they will be voting to retain the five Kansas Supreme Court justices whose names appear on the bottom of the ballot for retention. "This is an unusual election," Stephan said. "For the past sixty years Kansas voters have retained our justices who were selected through a merit system and who have served the state so well. This year the courts are under attack with misleading accusations."
The former attorneys general pointed out that Topeka politicians have been trying for the past three years to strip power from the courts and get politically appointed judges and justices on the court because they didn’t like some of the rulings by the court. There were threats to impeach the justices and strip funding from the courts if the court ruled against the state on school funding.
The generals said opponents of retention election are kicking aside the rule of law and injecting political views into our judicial system. They warned voters that if the justices are not retained, Kansas will end up with a judicial system that will dispense justice about as well as the Topeka politicians are managing the budget, the highway fund, the state retirement system, state hospitals, and the tax system.
"We say keep politics out of courts," Six said. "Allow our justices to remain fair and impartial and make rulings based on the law, not on political opinions. If the opponents, including Governor Brownback and his allies, are successful in purging the court, the governor will be able to appoint up to five new justices. That’s more than a majority on the court. No governor should have that much power."
Members of the Kansas Supreme Court and Kansas Court of Appeals have been targeted for defeat by ultra-conservative groups in Kansas as well as out-of- state special interest groups. In Kansas, judges and justices are prevented from responding to or commenting on issues or cases that may come before them, leaving them unable to respond to these blatantly political attacks.
The Attorneys General spoke on behalf of Kansans for Fair Courts. Launched in 2013, Kansans for Fair Courts is a nonpartisan coalition of thousands of Kansans who are working to ensure fair and impartial courts for all Kansans and advocate for the importance of the merit selection system. This year, KFFC is working to defend and retain the members of the Kansas Supreme Court and Kansas Court of Appeals who have been targeted by political groups for defeat.
Kansans for Fair Courts is an initiative of the Kansas Values Institute. For more information, please visit: www.KansansForFairCourts.org.
Audio: AG Steve Six
Audio: AG Bob Stephan