Tag Archives: Sam Brownback

Judiciary is non-political, right? Uh, no


It can be declared categorically — perhaps it should have been long ago — that the judicial branch of government is as political as the executive and the legislative branches.

The U.S. Senate is playing politics with President Obama’s selection of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.

Now there’s this, in Kansas.

The state legislature is considering a bill that would call for the impeachment of state supreme court justices if they seek to “usurp” the power of the legislature or the governor.

In other words, if the state’s highest court rules differently from what the legislature or the governor believes, the justices are subject to being kicked off the bench.

What an extraordinary — and ham-handed — approach to governing.

Kansas judges are appointed and then are subject to retention elections during their tenure on the bench. Conservative activists and politicians want voters to reshape the court by kicking four justices out who they believe have ruled the wrong way on key issues. Therefore, voters have the power already to decide which justices should stay and which ones should go.

The Republican-controlled Kansas legislature is hoping voters this fall will tilt the court more toward the majority of lawmakers’ liking. So, why seek to enact this measure that liberalizes impeachment proceedings against the state’s judicial branch?

As the New York Times reported: “Gov. Sam Brownback and other conservative Republicans have expressed outrage over State Supreme Court decisions that overturned death penalty verdicts, blocked anti-abortion laws and hampered Mr. Brownback’s efforts to slash taxes and spending, and they are seeking to reshape a body they call unaccountable to the right-tilting public.”

It’s no longer left to the state’s highest judicial authority to interpret the state’s constitution as it sees fit. It now has an extra layer of oversight coming from the legislative and executive branches to ensure that the court rules “correctly.”

This is political conservatism? It sounds and looks much more like activism in the extreme.


Tax cuts pushed off GOP table

Tax cuts used to be the mantra of the Republican Party.

No more, or so it seems. Cutting taxes now appears to be the bane of the Grand Old Party. Why? Some states that have cut taxes too much now face the dreaded “d” word, budget deficits that are blowing apart any effort to do something constructive for constituents.


Meanwhile, at the federal level we’re seeing the deficit shrinking as the federal government has reduced spending while holding the line — for now — on tax revenue.

“We have to stop being one-trick ponies,” said California Rep. John Campbell, a member of the arch-conservative Republican Study Committee and the No. 4 Republican on the House Budget Committee.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican who once served in the U.S. Senate, might be in serious trouble this election year because he’s pushed too hard for tax cuts that have cost the state too much revenue to pay for certain things — such as, oh, road maintenance and public education.

As Politico reports, the tax cuts that once were the mainstay of a party dominated by Ronald Reagan are MIA in the current political discussion. GOP candidates are talking about the Affordable Care Act and terrorism. Tax cuts? Forget about it.

Well, rest assured that Democrats will remind voters of the danger of cutting too much. They’ll be talking enough for both political parties right up until Election Day.