Fight Over Kansas Court Funding Attracts National Attention

Sep 14, 2015

The Kansas Judicial Center
Credit Stephen Koranda, File Photo / Kansas Public Radio

A legal fight in Kansas over funding for the courts is attracting national headlines and attention from advocacy groups outside the state. At issue is a law that changes the way chief judges are selected. A later budget bill was tied to the law.

As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, that means if the judicial selection law is struck down, the Kansas court system’s funding is also eliminated.

A Kansas district court has ruled against the judicial selection law. That ruling has been placed on hold while there’s an appeal, but there are still questions about the security of the court funding.

University of Kansas Law Professor Richard Levy says this may be attracting national attention because this strategy could be used other places to try to prevent laws from being overturned.

“At a political level, this sort of direct confrontation between the legislative and judicial branch may be a sign of things to come in other states as well,” Levy says.

Critics say Kansas lawmakers are coercing the judicial branch to accept policy changes or risk losing its entire budget. Supporters of the law have said it makes sense to bundle the two things together. They say they'll be able to address the judicial branch budget if the law is struck down.

An earlier version of this story originally aired Sept. 14, 2015, during All Things Considered.