At America’s founding, there were provisions made to ensure there would never be an absolute ruler unrestrained by law or constitution, or one who could ever usurp legitimate sovereignty to ultimately control everything. The world has witnessed tyrannical rulers of horrible character who used power oppressively or unjustly, and although every state in America follows the federal model of separation and balance of powers, it appears the Koch brothers’ Kansas is on the verge of becoming a dictatorship with trickle down Governor Sam Brownback as the sole authority.
Late last week governor trickle down signed a bill into law that eliminates the state’s entire judicial system if the Supreme Court rules against an ‘administrative law’ Brownback’s Republicans passed to neuter the judiciary and end the state government’s separation of powers. Tyrants just cannot tolerate either separation or balance of powers and Brownback is finished answering to the Kansas Supreme Court or abiding by the Kansas State Constitution. It is not Brownback’s first attempt at consolidating all state power in his office, or eliminating judicial oversight over state laws. Brownback’s action last week verifies that he is more than willing to eliminate any branch of Kansas government that “gets in his way” or refuses to follow his dictates.
The Kansas Supreme Court fell afoul of Brownback’s good graces last year when it ruled that due to his trickle-down tax cuts for the rich, drastic cuts in public school funding in poor districts violated Kansas’ Constitution. The High Court’s Justices ordered Brownback’s legislature to correct the problem in a timely manner to fully comply with the state’s Constitution. However, instead of following the Constitution or the Court ruling, Republicans retaliated against the Justices and passed an “administrative law” stripping the Court of its constitutional authority to appoint local chief judges or set district court budgets. No matter how it was framed, the Republican ‘administrative law’ was a warning to the Supreme Court justices that Sam Brownback rules Kansas and as a tyrant it is he who determines what is constitutional and what is not according to his economic ideology.
When they ruled that Kansas’ public schools were grossly underfunded, the Justices did not declare, as they should have, that Brownback’s cuts to education were “wholly unconstitutional.” Instead, they held out the option of revisiting the issue after giving Brownback and the Republican legislature an adequate amount of time to comply. If Brownback and Republicans failed, the Justices would mandate the Republican legislature adequately fund education according to the Kansas Constitution. Of course, with the state bleeding revenue, fully funding education would have required tax hikes and Brownback promptly threatened the Justices with “political reforms” such as supreme court recall elections, slashing the retirement age for justices, and instituting partisan elections. Subsequently, now that the court has “an opportunity to strike down the administrative laws,” Republicans quickly passed, and Brownback signed, the law last week that completely defunds the entire Kansas judiciary if the court does not back down and cede all constitutional ruling authority to Sam Brownback.
No matter how one interprets it, Brownback’s ‘administrative law’ is a gross violation of Kansas’ Constitution giving the Justices authority to strike it down. However, like most Republicans, armed militias, and twisted tyrants, Brownback believes he, and he alone, is the ultimate arbiter of just what is and what is not constitutional in Kansas. To make his point, and to impose executive branch tyranny in Kansas, trickle down Sam and his Republican legislature are threatening the state Supreme Court with extinction if it refuses to obey his edict and uphold an administrative law Brownback ruled is constitutional. No matter how the Justices react, they are effectively powerless because if they rule against Brownback the entire state judiciary is eliminated, and if they back down Brownback’s administrative law stays in effect and gives conservative state courts purview that once belonged to the state supreme court.
Brownback is daring the Kansas Supreme Court to rule according to the Kansas Constitution and declare the Brownback “administrative law” unconstitutional. It is highly likely that is the outcome Brownback is seeking so he can eliminate all judiciary funding and put an end to the judicial branch of Kansas’ government leaving the Koch legislature and executive branch as the sole authority in Kansas.
What Brownback has the Koch Republican legislature doing is extortion pure and simple, and the action of a tyrant and a bully. To threaten the state’s Supreme Court with a simple choice of either obeying Brownback unconditionally, “or cease to exist” is sheer tyranny, outright oppression, and actions of a fascist dictator. Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein would recognize Brownback’s machinations as those of a world-class tyrant and grant him permanent membership in their special dictator’s club. It is a distinction trickle down Sam would relish and likely take to the next level and permanently disband the state legislature and crown himself god-governor for life.
It is important to note that the only thing the Kansas Supreme Court has done is its due diligence in pushing Brownback and the Republican legislature to uphold their “very basic constitutional duties;” something both Brownback and his Republican legislators swore to uphold, but only if it fits the Koch brothers’ vision of Kansas and a portent of the Kochs’ vision for America.
Obviously that vision entails destroying the Kansas judiciary if it fails to rubber stamp Brownback’s Koch agenda of underfunding education to pay for tax cuts for the rich. The lesson playing out in Kansas is one the federal judiciary had better take to heart if it wants to remain in existence. The Kochs already own Congress and most of the Supreme Court so it is no stretch to imagine Republicans repeating the actions of the Kansas legislature in stripping authority from the federal judiciary and then eliminate the judicial branch altogether if a federal court dared rule that Republicans lack authority to neuter the judiciary, or to be like Sam Brownback and become a constitution unto themselves.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.