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In First GOP Debate, Gubernatorial Candidates Criticize Kansas Supreme Court

Nadya Faulx
Candidate Mark Hutton speaks as other candidates--Wink Hartman, Kris Kobach and Ken Selzer--look on during Saturday's debate in Wichita. Speaking about the issue of school funding, Hutton had harsh words for the "Sebelius court."

Some of the Republican candidates looking to be Kansas' next governor bluntly criticized the state Supreme Court when asked about education during the first Republican gubernatorial debate

"The question is, where do we spend the money and [tell] the Supreme Court to get out of our way?" said Secretary of State Kris Kobach during Saturday's debate in Wichita.

"And tell the Supreme Court -- the Sebelius court -- to butt out," said former state lawmaker Mark Hutton.

Both remarks were met with cheers. After watching the debate, Father Matthew Habiger from Atchison agreed with the candidates. He said he's tired of what he sees as judicial overreach.

"Our supreme courts in this state and our judicial system, I think, throughout the country need a serious reexamination," he said.

But Finney County Republican Party Chairman Bill Clifford voiced some unease with the criticism.

"You know, I think somebody has to be the bad guy," Clifford said. "And certainly they vilified, number one, the Supreme Court and, number two, the legislators."

The Kansas Supreme Court ruled last year that the Legislature must increase K-12 funding.


Stephan Bisaha is an education reporter for KMUW’s Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KMUW, Kansas Public Radio, KCUR and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. Follow him on Twitter @SteveBisaha.