For many months, elected officials in Kansas have put state courts in the crosshairs, and Gavel Grab has followed the ongoing saga incrementally. It has grabbed national attention. Now The New Yorker recaps this important battle in a piece titled “The Political War Against the Kansas Supreme Court”; it cites Justice at Stake.
Writer Lincoln Caplan depicts a struggle by elected leaders to politicize an impartial court. He discusses efforts to junk merit selection of Supreme Court justices (one proposal was defeated last week, see Gavel Grab, and another would replace merit selection with popular election) and also upcoming retention (up-or-down) elections for five of the seven justices, and he concludes:
“Elections often make judges indistinguishable from politicians, and judging indistinguishable from politics. As of now, when reasonable citizens disagree with rulings of the Kansas Supreme Court, they mainly trust its good intentions and the nonpartisan process that has led to appointment of capable, well-qualified, and conscientious justices for the past three generations. The saving grace for the court is that it generally functions as a court, apart from politics. Kansans should do everything they can to keep it that way.”