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Editorial Commentary: Ken Ciboski

Ciboski: Elections Will Not Fix Fiscal or Political Problems

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Kansas made the the front page of The New York Times this past week as the fiery battle to reshape the Kansas Supreme Court and make it more accountable to a conservative-leaning public is heating up.

Gov. Sam Brownback and conservative Republicans are outraged about blocked anti-abortion laws and decisions on the funding of K-12 schools. The Court ruled that the state’s public schools would have to shut down if more money was not given to poorer districts by June 30. The Legislature responded with a plan last week to give more money to poorer school districts. But the fiscal woes of K-12 education and of the state are not likely to go away any time soon. The Court may rule soon on whether or not the shrunken amount of money overall for K-12 education meets minimum standards.  

The state Senate passed a bill in March that authorized impeachment of justices if their decisions usurped the power of other branches. Ryan Wright, executive director of Kansans for Fair Courts, is quoted as saying that efforts to reshape the Court is a “full-out power grab by the governor.”

In the meantime, organized efforts are under way to unseat four of the seven sitting justices this coming fall with a vote against their retention. Kansans for Life, a group against abortion, is working against retaining some justices.

We can expect a long hot summer as campaigns to change the membership of the state legislature heat up as well as the campaign to defeat some Supreme Court justices with a vote not to retain them in the coming election.  

One thing is certain, and that is that the state has too many fiscal and political problems for us to expect that these will be fixed with the August primary elections and the November general election.