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Crime and Courts

Kansas Supreme Court Strikes Down Law Changing How Chief Judges Are Selected

Stephen Koranda, File Photo
Kansas Public Radio

The Kansas Supreme Court says lawmakers overstepped their bounds when they changed the way chief judges are selected in judicial districts. The law had taken that power away from the high court, but on Wednesday the justices ruled that the state Constitution specifically gives that power to the Kansas Supreme Court.

The Legislature passed another law saying if the judicial selection law was struck down -- as it was on Wednesday -- the entire judicial branch of government would lose its funding.

KU Law Professor Richard Levy says it’s now up to lawmakers to decide how to respond. He says letting the courts shut down would have a series of negative consequences.

“The functioning court system is something that’s necessary for the state and I can’t really see the Legislature shutting down the court systems altogether,” says Levy. “I think what we would be more likely to see is a new budget measure that retaliated in some way, but wasn’t completely defunding the courts.”

Another lawsuit has put the issue of court funding on hold until early next year. That means, at least for now, Kansas courts will remain open.