Wednesday Mar 09, 2016 · 4:07 PM MST
KS Governor Sam Brownback: The Face of Republican Despotism
For those who had any remaining doubts, Kansas has officially gone insane, with its Republican dominated legislature now trying to pass a law effectively nullifying the state’s Judiciary system:
A committee in the GOP-controlled Senate plans to vote Tuesday on a bill that would make "attempting to usurp the power" of the Legislature or the executive branch grounds for impeachment.
Impeachment has "been a little-used tool" to challenge judges who strike down new legislation, said Republican Sen. Dennis Pyle, a sponsor of the measure. "Maybe it needs to be oiled up a little bit or sharpened a little bit."
Senate Bill 439 is currently set for debate before the state’s GOP-stacked Judiciary Committee. If it is approved and signed by Governor Brownback, it will permit impeachment of any Judge who acts contrary to the wishes of the legislature. In other words, any Judge who strikes down or modifies any law the legislature passes, for any reason– whether the law is blatantly Unconstitutional, violative of existing laws, or otherwise, is thereby subject to impeachment proceedings by the state Legislature. A previous law threatening to cut off all Judicial funding was declared unconstitutional by the state’s High Court.
The state has been trapped in an economic death grip since Governor Sam Brownback and a feckless cadre of rabidly “conservative” Republican lawmakers controlling asupermajority in both of the state’s legislative chambers instituted unprecedented, radical tax cuts to benefit the richest people in the state, while just as radically guttingpublic services to the state’s citizens, most notably in education:
Parent-enraging anecdotes abounded in schools across the state: tales of swelling classroom sizes, teachers forced to fill in for laid-off janitors and nurses, libraries unable to buy new books. One group of parents took the extraordinary step of suing the government, a lawsuit Brownback appealed all the way to the Kansas Supreme Court after a lower court described his actions as "destructive of our children’s future." In March [of 2014], the Supreme Court ruled the cuts unconstitutional.
Nor has the situation improved much at all since Brownback was re-elected. As Charles Pierce, writing for Esquiremagazine, describes it, the sorry condition of the state under complete “Tea Party" dominance now serves as a textbook, laboratory-tested example of what unchecked Republican policies can lead to. Furious at Court rulings ordering the state government to follow existing law and fund public education ( a task which Brownback’s extreme tax-cutting has made well-nigh impossible), the Republicans are striking back at the only thing that stands in their way of turning the entire state into a Hobbesian, conservative cesspool—the state’s courts.
And don’t think they won’t do it:
Angry over losing in court on school funding and abortion and impatient to see the death penalty carried out, some lawmakers and Gov. Sam Brownback view the judiciary and especially the state Supreme Court as “activist,” “liberal” and out of control.
If that language sounds familiar, it should. It’s the same type of overblown terminology Republicans everywhere use to describe judicial decisions that don’t go their way. The Kansas Bill here is unique, however, in providing an explicit measure for one branch of government to nullify another branch’s authority completely as a form of “punishment’ for not yielding to partisan ideology. It’s a measure purely designed to intimidate and threaten the Judiciary into accepting the dictates of a Republican legislature. Which is exactly what the GOP-dominated Kansas legislature has in mind. Pierce captures the absolutist, dogma- driven fervor of these people:
They recognize no limits to their power, no curbs to their desire. There are few frontiers in democratic government that they will not work to violate, or to twist to their own purposes. And they absolutely will not stop.Ni shagu nazad, as Stalin said to his army. Not one step backwards.
What’s happening to Kansas should be a stark example to the rest of us of what the Republican Party in control of the U.S. Congress would do under any Republican President: Trump, Cruz, Kasich—any of them, it makes absolutely no difference. Any one of them would act as a willing and eager rubber-stamp for a Republican legislature hell-bent on satisfying the desires of a tiny minority of obscenely wealthy donors, leaving the rest of us to suffer the consequences. The behavior of the Republican Senate majority in refusing to even consider the President’s nominations to the Supreme Court is just another ominous reminder of their total disregard for government “by the people.” And they absolutely will not stop, even if it means trashing the rest of the country—and us along with it.