A legal fight over funding for Kansas courts has attracted national attention. At issue is a state law that changes the way chief judges are selected. A subsequent budget bill stipulated that the Kansas court system would lose all of its funding if the judicial selection law was struck down. A district court has struck down the law. That decision is on hold while there’s an appeal, but it still leaves questions about funding for the courts.
University of Kansas Law Professor Richard Levy has been watching the legal wrangling. He says one reason the fight is attracting attention is because it’s a strategy that lawmakers in other states could pursue
“If legislatures could do this, then the precedent in Kansas might encourage more use of this sort of a tactic to protect constitutionally suspect bills,” says Levy.
Critics say the Kansas Legislature is coercing the judicial branch of government to accept policy changes or risk losing its entire budget. Supporters of the law have said it makes sense to bundle together the policy change and funding. They say they’ll take action to address judicial branch funding if the law is ultimately struck down.
A legal fight in Kansas over funding for the courts is attracting national headlines and attention from advocacy groups outside the state. At issue is a law that changes the way chief judges are selected. A later budget bill was tied to the law. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, that means if the judicial selection law is struck down, the Kansas court system’s funding is also eliminated.
A Kansas district court has ruled against the judicial selection law. That ruling has been placed on hold while there’s an appeal, but there are still questions about the security of the court funding.
University of Kansas Law Professor Richard Levy says this may be attracting national attention because this strategy could be used other places to try to prevent laws from being overturned.
“At a political level, this sort of direct confrontation between the legislative and judicial branch may be a sign of things to come in other states as well,” says Levy.
Critics say Kansas lawmakers are coercing the judicial branch to accept policy changes or risk losing its entire budget. Supporters of the law have said it makes sense to bundle the two things together. They say they'll be able to address the judicial branch budget if the law is struck down.