You could be forgiven for forgetting that a district court ruled earlier this year that funding for public schools was "inadequate" under the state constitution. This would be easy to forget because Governor Sam Brownback and the state legislature proceeded to cut education even further, seemingly ignoring the court's decision. Moreover, they cut education to such a degree that some school districts were forced to close for the Summer earlier than usual.
Brownback and the legislature also responded to the ruling by passing an administrative law stripping the state Supreme Court of its authority to appoint chief judges for local districts, the likes of which ruled against the state and in favor of local school districts that sued the state for not providing adequate funding for education.
Now that the Supreme Court is poised to consider the legality of that administrative law, Brownback is threatening to defund the entire state judiciary.
Now the court has an opportunity to strike down the administrative law, which probably violates the state constitution. And that's where Brownback's insane new law comes in. The law declares that if the supreme court strikes down the administrative law, the entire state judiciary will lose its funding. Brownback and the legislature are essentially bullying the judiciary: Uphold our law or cease to exist.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Matthew Menendez, counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice in New York, which is helping to represent a Kansas judge who is challenging the constitutionality of the 2014 law. “It seems pretty clear that these mechanisms have been an effort by the governor and the Legislature to try and get a court system that is more in line with their philosophy.”
Why would Brownback and the legislature go to such lengths?
Because they don't want to be forced by the court to properly fund education. Properly funding education would require revenue that the state does not have because Brownback and the legislature are using their constituents in a Randian economic experiment. Brownback himself and a significant portion of the legislature have pledged their tax-raising virginity to Grover Norquist and, as of this writing, still haven't plugged a $400 million hole in the state budget that was generated by Brownback's signature tax cuts.
It's anyone guess what will happen next, but I for one hope that the judiciary will call their bluff, repeal the administrative law, and force the state to spend more money on education.
One way or another, this could end up in front of the United States Supreme Court.
In case it wasn't clear, Republicans fucking love executive authority as long as it's being exercised by them. Kansas is one of many states currently suing the Obama administration for using executive authority to defer action against undocumented immigrants.