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Kansas Senate Advances Judicial Impeachment Bill

The Judicial Center houses the Kansas Supreme Court. (Photo by Stephen Koranda)

The Kansas Senate has advanced a bill that spells out a dozen reasons state Supreme Court justices can be impeached. The list of offenses includes attempting to usurp the power of another branch of government.

Supporters of the bill say this simply clarifies the impeachment process. Republican Senator Mitch Holmes says impeachment powers have fallen by the wayside.

“We all know the phrase 'power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.' That’s what this is about,” says Holmes.

Critics of the bill say it expands the grounds for impeaching a Kansas Supreme Court justice to include vague offenses like “discourteous conduct.” Democratic Senator Anthony Hensley says some court rulings could be grounds for impeachment under this bill.

“I don’t think this will work, but I believe the intent behind this bill is to intimidate the Kansas Supreme Court,” says Hensley.

The bill was amended in committee to include similar impeachable offenses for other statewide officers like the governor. If the legislation gets final approval from the Senate it will be considered by the Kansas House.


(Associated Press version)

Kansas Senate Advances Bill Defining, Expanding Ways to Impeach Supreme Court Justices

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Republican-dominated Kansas Legislature has advanced a bill declaring that state Supreme Court justices can be impeached for attempting to usurp the Legislature's power.  The Senate gave the measure first-round approval on a voice vote Monday. It's the latest initiative from GOP conservatives in recent years putting Kansas at the center of a national effort to remake state courts.  A final vote is expected Tuesday to determine whether the measure goes to the House.  The state constitution says Supreme Court justices can be impeached for treason, bribery or "other high crimes and misdemeanors." The bill outlines a list of misconduct covered by the latter phrase, including attempting "to usurp" the power of other branches of state government.  Supporters included a similar list of grounds for impeaching executive branch officials.

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