In a recent controversial move, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has decided to sign a law that will defund the state’s judiciary branch if the Kansas Supreme Court makes the decision to strike down a law favored by him.
The law that Brownback signed in 2014 was apparently designed to put more conservative judges in the courts, who are more likely to agree with the governor’s political agenda. Now the state Supreme Court is considering whether such a law is constitutional. Brownback’s law had the effect of removing the Supreme Court’s authority to appoint chief judges for district courts in the state and also removed the Supreme Court’s power to set the budgets allotted to district courts.
Many believe that the law has been signed as a retaliatory measure after the Supreme Court ordered Brownback and his legislators to fix funding gaps which are apparent between poor and wealthier school districts. Doing so might require the state to raise taxes, which is something Governor Brownback strongly opposes.
If one reads the Kansas State Constitution, it doesn’t take a legal scholar to figure out that the 2014 law actually is unconstitutional. The Constitution makes it clear that the Supreme Court has the authority over all courts in Kansas.
Of course, the Supreme Court may choose to strike down the law, but Brownback has moved to sign a new law which would take away all funding for the judiciary branch if the court rules against him. This move is highly controversial and has led to Brownback being called a dictator by many.