Wichita Eagle Letter: Don’t be misled on retention vote
By Blake Shuart
By now, you’ve probably seen the yard signs around town urging you to “vote no on activist judges.” You may have read a flier about the Carr brothers case, urging you to tell a majority of our Kansas Supreme Court justices, “You’re fired.” The details in these messages are sparse, so what do they really mean?
You’re being misled. Don’t fall for it.
The political motivations driving most of these messages have nothing to do with the outcome of any criminal case. But these horrendous and despicable crimes could trigger the type of immediate emotional response necessary to sway your vote.
Talk of funding mechanisms and policy-based governmental regulations probably won’t. And they know it.
Make no mistake: The silent catalysts behind this endeavor are urging Kansans to do the wrong thing for the wrong reasons.
This is not about the merits of the underlying political goals at play. As a lawyer who has seen what an unbiased court system means to our citizens, I’m here to tell you what you can expect if they’re successful.
The makeup of our state’s two appellate courts – the Kansas Court of Appeals and the Kansas Supreme Court – would be completely transformed. The new judges would be fully aware that their positions opened because their predecessors’ votes in certain cases were not popular.
The message to these new judges will be obvious: Apply the law only when it will lead to a popular result.
When political pressure sparked by our elected officials permeates the deepest recesses of our court system, the most instrumental component of our democracy – separation of powers – has been defeated. Politically induced court opinions are the kissing cousin of pay-to-play politics.