TOPEKA – (December 23, 2015) – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt today issued the following statement in response to the Kansas Supreme Court’s unanimous decision that a 2014 statute altering the method of selecting chief district court judges and making other changes to judicial processes is unconstitutional:
“Today’s decision makes clear the Supreme Court’s conclusion that 2014 HB 2338 is unconstitutional and, because of the district court’s decision to enforce the nonseverability clause, is unenforceable in its entirety. Under our system of government, the Supreme Court is the final authority on the meaning of the Kansas Constitution. The statute is void.
“A separate 2015 statute that purports to condition all judicial branch funding on the outcome of this case is on hold and unenforceable by separate court order until at least March 15, 2016. The Kansas Constitution plainly forbids the complete defunding of the judiciary, and as I have said before, I do not think that was the intended result of the Legislature. Therefore, in light of today’s decision, I again recommend the Legislature act before March 15 to sever the connection between funding for the judicial branch and today’s Supreme Court decision.
“While the outcome in today’s case was unanimous, the reasoning of the Justices was not. For those who think the structures of our government are themselves vital bulwarks of liberty, the reasoning of Justice Stegall’s concurring opinion offered some degree of hope that the court’s separation-of-powers jurisprudence may someday become more principled and consistent.”