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JAS: KS Judicial Impeachment Bill Another Unconstitutional, Political Attack on Courts

February 19, 2016

JAS:  KS Judicial Impeachment Bill Another Unconstitutional, Political Attack on Courts 

Contact: Laurie Kinney, lkinney@justiceatstake.org, (202) 588-9454; cell (571) 882-3615 
WASHINGTON, D.C., February 19 - Justice at Stake Executive Director Susan Liss issued the following statement today, in response to the Kansas state Senate Judiciary Committee’s advancement of a bill, SB 440, that enumerates multiple offenses for which certain state court judges may be removed.

“This is the latest attack on Kansas courts by politicians who have repeatedly been willing to cross the lines of constitutionality to intimidate the state’s courts, especially its Supreme Court. It wasn’t enough for politicians to threaten a complete shutdown of the state’s court system at the expense of its citizens, or to attempt to tear down the state’s constitutionally-created centralized court system.  Now, the political tampering with courts extends to a list of ‘impeachable’ judicial offenses that would be laughable if it weren’t so disturbing. 

"This bill is clearly unconstitutional. The bill greatly expands the offenses for which Supreme Court justices in particular can be impeached by including overbroad and vague categories. And there has been no effort to follow the required process for seeking voter consent for a constitutional amendment.”
In addition to treason and bribery, the bill lists as grounds for removal the following:
commission of other indictable criminal offenses;
commission of a breach of the public trust;
commission of a breach of judicial ethics;
failure to perform adequately the duties of office;
attempting to subvert fundamental laws and introduce arbitrary power;
attempting to usurp the power of the legislative or executive branch of government;
exhibiting discourteous conduct toward litigants, jurors, witnesses; lawyers or others with whom the justice or judge deals in an official capacity
exhibiting wanton or reckless judicial conduct;
exhibiting personal misbehavior or misconduct;
failure to properly supervise, administer or discipline judicial personnel; or
such other actions which in accordance with section 28 of article 2 of the constitution of the state of Kansas may constitute grounds for impeachment or which in accordance with section 15 of article 3 of the constitution of the state of Kansas may constitute grounds for discipline, suspension or removal for cause.
Justice at Stake Executive Director Susan Liss joined JAS full-time on February 16. Liss’s career as a public interest attorney and leader spans more than thirty years, during which she has been a champion for civil rights, women’s rights, democracy and the Constitution. She is available for further comment and discussion regarding the politicization of courts and the courts’ role in our democracy.  



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