Kansas Courts Might be Defunded Because Lawmakers Don’t Want to Fund Education

Last Summer the Kansas state legislature passed a law that would strip the state court system of its authority to appoints its own judges for local districts. Passage of the law came in response to a district court ruling that the state's education budget was unconstitutional.

Anticipating that the state judiciary would strike down a law stripping them of their authority, Governor Sam Brownback and the state legislature followed that up with another law that would defund the courts if the former law is struck down.

To be honest I had forgotten about this legal spat even though I covered it here at the time. The idea that two branches of the government would defund the third seemed so ridiculous to me I didn't think it would actually come to that, but that's exactly where we're at.

A district court struck down the authority-stripping law last night.

On Wednesday night, a district judge in Kansas struck down a 2014 law that stripped the state Supreme Court of some of its administrative powers. [...]

Both parties in the case have agreed to ask that Wednesday's ruling remain on hold until it can be appealed to the state Supreme Court, so that there is a functioning court to hear the appeal. On Thursday, a judge granted the stay. Meanwhile, lawyers involved in the case and advocates for judicial independence are preparing a legal challenge to the clause of the judicial budget that withholds court funding. Sometime in the next few months, the state Supreme Court is likely to rule on whether the legislature has the right to strip the Supreme Court of its administrative authority, and whether it can make funding for the courts contingent on the outcome of a court case.

A functioning court system would be useful, now that you mention it.

It should not be forgotten that this all began with a ruling against the state government. A district court sided with local school districts who sued the state over inadequate funding.

The state legislature responded to that ruling with retribution, stripping the courts of their authority to appoint chief judges for local districts.

The refusal on the part of Republicans to fund education at a level that is constitutional is so absolute they would risk throwing the entire state government into chaos over it.

Funding education at an adequate level would require the governor and the legislature to back off their quest to starve the beast and deprive the state of necessary revenue.

I can't see the state Supreme Court ruling in favor of a law that would defund the court, but I didn't think the legal battle would even make it this far.