Editorial: Impeachment Bill a Means to Punish KS Judges

Knowing the Kansas Supreme Court has done no wrong, and that no members of it have committed high crimes or misdemeanors, Kansas legislators merely are trying to punish the court for opinions that have riled them up — and that’s the basis for overly broad legislation defining new grounds for the justices’ impeachment.

This is the opinion expressed by a Topeka Capital-Journal editorial this week after state Senate passage of the judicial impeachment bill (see Gavel Grab). The editorial was headlined, “Bill puts court at state’s mercy/Supreme Court’s impeachable offenses can be whatever the Legislature decides.”

The editorial concluded by borrowing from the language of the legislation to criticize its sponsors: “To use the bill’s own words against it, SB 439 would allow for ‘wanton and reckless’ impeachment hearings operated by political ideologues. Of course, the bill does not apply to members of the Legislature. If it did, trying to impeach justices while ignoring real problems would certainly constitute ‘failure to perform adequately the duties of office.’”

Justice at Stake has labeled the bill “clearly unconstitutional.”