How a Court Case in Kansas Could Pave the Way for ‘Buying Justice’

Re-posted from an article written on Sep 09, 2015 on A+

The judicial system of the United States is under attack. The fundamental construct of the government of the United States is being rewritten, in Kansas. For those who need a refresher the government of the United States is based on the premise of equal but separate branches. Three branches make up the government, the executive, the legislative, and the judicial. This system is in place at both the federal and the state level.

But conservatives in the state of Kansas have been redistributing the power and attempting to dismantle the power of the judicial branch. The assault on the judicial branch started in 2014. As a result of conservative tax cuts set in motion in 2012, and reiterated in 2013, the state revenues had fallen by nearly 25% by 2014. When the Kansas State Supreme Court ordered in March 2014 that the state correct an inequitable dispersal of education funds between rich and poor districts the state didn’t have the dosh.

Since then, the legislature in Kansas which is dominated by conservatives, has pressed the idea of giving the governor more power to pick state Supreme Court justices and to make is easier to remove sitting justices at all levels of the judiciary from the bench. Therefore, quite literally, allowing them to stack the judicial deck in their favor. In addition to this, they passed a law that removed the Kansas Supreme Court of its administrative authority over lower courts, and placed a booby trap around that law by including a provision on court funding in case anyone should think to repeal the law. In essence, the legislature wrote the rules for the court, and then to hold the courts to the uneven playing field, the legislature tied the courts budget to it’s acceptance of the new rules.

What the legislature forgot is you never play chicken with a judge.

The threat to defund state courts if the courts were not submissive to the legislature’s desires has caused a tsunami of indignation through the judicial branch. In response, on September 2nd 2015, a district court struck down the law stripping the state Supreme Court of it’s Administrative Authority, thus triggering a freeze of the judicial systems budget. If not for a last minute stay and an agreement by both sides to wait on suspending the judicial budget until the case is heard by the state Supreme Court.

Why does all of this matter to you? 

What we are seeing played out in Kansas is pure political power attempting, and not even in a subtle way, to skew power to the affluent. All of this began from a disparity of resources allocated to the poor. When that disparity was recognized by the court it ordered that the gap be closed. That is when the affluent in the legislature started their attempt to dismantle the judicial branch. In short order the legislation passed a law to hobble the court, seized it’s funds and placed a contingent on the funds to prevent future judicial rebellion.

Money is attempting to drive the scales of justice to suit their own agenda. If the precedent of defunding the courts is allowed to stand the doors are open. I don’t want to argue an impossibly slippery slope, but the fact that the moneyed and the powerful could tie the courts to behave according to legislated rules, dis-empowers the courts and corrupts the nature of the checks-and-balances system.

From there, the fiction writer in me leaps ahead to gross corruption of the legal system where if a person be worth more than some gross value in wealth they would become immune from prosecution. A system crafted by the rich for the rich. Indeed, let’s hope it remains fiction.

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