The American Judges Association has historically had a strong Kansas membership. Two of our past AJA Presidents are sitting judges in Kansas. So, this story in The New York Times about Kansas courts ought to trouble not just American Judges Association members, but everyone.
The story begins:
TOPEKA, Kan. — Washington is locked in partisan warfare over control of the Supreme Court. But it is hardly the only place. Look at the states, where political attacks on judicial decisions are common and well-financed attack ads are starting to jar the once-sleepy elections for State Supreme Court seats.
Nowhere is the battle more fiery than here in Kansas. Gov. Sam Brownback and other conservative Republicans have expressed outrage over State Supreme Court decisions that overturned death penalty verdicts, blocked anti-abortion laws and hampered Mr. Brownback’s efforts to slash taxes and spending, and they are seeking to reshape a body they call unaccountable to the right-tilting public.
The full story can be found here.
It is not easy to be in public life in any of the branches of government. We serve at a time when appreciation for public service is not particularly widespread. For judges, this is a particular challenge. For the most part, judges are not political people. They listen, think, reflect, rule, and don’t seek limelight. Things like what is happening in Kansas are not peculiar to that state, as the New York Times article points out, but frankly “misery loves company” is hardly effective. So, is there something an AJA member can do? Send an e mail to judges you know in Kansas…and judges you don’t know…and simply say this, “Hang In There, from a fellow judge.”