On Friday, Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas appointed Caleb Stegall to the Kansas Supreme Court. This completes a coup so arrogant, so contemptuous of the separation of powers, so disrespectful of the people of Kansas, that it leaves us gasping.
Governor Brownback has long railed against the Kansas Supreme Court, which has stood fast in enforcing the Kansas Constitution, most markedly the requirement that the state fund adequate public education for all Kansas students. Without the Supreme Court requiring even minimal funding, repeatedly over the past decade, the extremists would have continued to reduce school funding until public education was an afterthought.
Moderates in the Kansas Legislature, outnumbered by the majority of crusading extremists, were unable to stop legislation giving the Governor the power to simply appoint judges to the Kansas Court of Appeals, one step below the Supreme Court. But they stood fast on the Supreme Court, to Brownback's dismay.
So he tried it another way.
Not even twelve months ago, Caleb Stegall was Governor Brownback's legal counsel, having never held a position as a judge. Then Brownback. exercising his new powers to determine lower court judges, appointed Stegall to the Court of Appeals from a secret list of candidates, to fill a newly created 14th seat. Then, when a Supreme Court seat opened up, Stegall was promptly nominated, along with two other judges of considerably more experience. Those three were sent to the Governor for his selection, and despite outcry among the judicial community and petitions circulated among Kansas citizens, he chose his faithful servant, Caleb Stegall, for the position.
The Hutchinson News sounded downright Onionesque with the headline, "Stegall Surprise: Brownback shocks state by appointing friend to high court."
Moderates cannot stand for this contemptible treatment of the offices of government. Governor Brownback's disregard for the principles of good, representative government is shocking.
What can you do?
- Get Involved. Learn about this issue, volunteer, stand up, and speak out.
- Donate. Identify groups that support your causes, and give them the ability to fight.
- Vote. Your vote still counts, no matter what the extremists do. Make a plan now to get out and vote.
Please note that we haven't mentioned Mr. Stegall's politics, his opinions, or his actions as a lawyer. While they do fly in the face of moderate stances we support, this isn't about that. This is about the process of judicial selection, the appointment of cronies, and the suborning of the intent of the separation of powers in our government.
That alone should be enough to stoke our ire.