Video clips from today’s media event are included at the right or bottom of this post.
Former Governors John Carlin (D), Mike Hayden (R), Bill Graves (R) and Kathleen Sebelius (D) spoke in solidarity today encouraging voters to retain the current Kansas Supreme Court Justices this November. These former Governors of Kansas along with former Governor Mark Parkinson who was unable to attend today’s press event, spoke of the current judicial selection process as effective and fair (SEE VIDEO #1). They went on to predict that a change in the system, as has been promoted by current Governor Sam Brownback, would politicize the judiciary, threaten impartiality and result in restricted access to justice for many Kansans. According the former Governors, the current Kansas Supreme Court has a 99.5% record of decisions having been upheld by the federal courts (SEE VIDEO #2).
Several of the former Governors in attendance at today’s press event noted that those who wish to politicize the judiciary are unfairly misleading the public using the Carr Brothers case out of Wichita to demonize the court. Using an emotional “wedge issue” designed to garner support for increasing the Governor’s influence while weakening the separation of powers is not a new strategy for the Brownback administration. As many grass roots and citizen groups have noted, attempts to weaken the Supreme Court under the Brownback administration have little to do with the Carr Brothers and much to do with rulings in recent school funding cases (SEE VIDEO #3).
Kansas NEA supports the efforts of Kansans for Fair Courts and the former Governors in attendance at today’s event. Ensuring a fair and impartial court where politics do not influence judicial rulings means keeping the current, effective, merit-based selection system in place.
Kansas NEA President Mark Farr reminds educators and all voters of the critical nature of retaining the current justices in November. “When we vote in November, we should start at the bottom of the ballot and work our way up to the top, we must retain our justices whose names are likely to be at the end of the ballot. Imagine if we don’t retain the justices who have upheld the constitution while holding the legislature to its duty to fund public schools equitably and adequately. If they are NOT retained, Governor Brownback would be responsible for appointing up to five new justices ensuring a continuation of his legacy of failure.”