Lawsuits over adequate court funding have occasionally been referred to as the nuclear option; the threat is great but if used it can be mutually assured destruction or worse. Yet if the nuclear bomb does not work there is no threat anymore. And that appears to be what happened in Kansas.
On January 22, the Kansas Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit brought by several trial court judges and one employee of the state’s judicial branch against the state legislature over funding for the state’s court system. According to the Associated Press, “[t]he lawsuit was filed directly with the Supreme Court and alleged state lawmakers have chronically underfinanced the judicial branch. It asked the court to force legislators to consider funding ‘independent of unrelated political agendas.’” “It came after a ruling from the Supreme Court last year protecting abortion rights, years of legal battles over funding for the state’s public schools and multiple rulings forcing lawmakers to boost education funding.” In its five-page decision dismissing the case, the Kansas Supreme Court said that allowing the lawsuit to proceed “would necessarily impede crucial inter-branch discussions aimed at allowing the Legislature to fulfill its constitutional obligation to fund the judicial branch.” “We are confident at this juncture that the matters Petitioners raise are better handled through inter-branch cooperation,” the court concluded