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Kansas Senate Committee Advances Bill Expanding Impeachment Powers

J. Stephen Conn
flickr Creative Commons

A Kansas Senate committee has advanced a bill that would expand the grounds for impeaching a state Supreme Court justice.

The bill says justices could be impeached for trying to exercise powers given to the governor or Legislature. Republican Sen. Forrest Knox says checks and balances in government are important.

"We have arrived at a point today in this country, in this state, where specifically Supreme Court justices have become kings, where there is no check," Knox says.

Democratic Sen. David Haley says the real reason behind the bill is simple: He says some Republicans are upset about rulings by the courts on issues like school funding.

"It's just been a continuous attack on an independent branch of our government. The separation of powers is clear; it should remain clear," Haley says.

Republican Sen. Greg Smith says this is not about attacking judges, it's about defining the reasons for impeachment. The committee approved his amendment, which applies similar grounds for impeachment to other elected officials, including the governor.

Stephen Koranda is the managing editor of the Kansas News Service, based at KCUR. He has nearly 20 years of experience in public media as a reporter and editor.