A relatively fair number of Americans really have no idea what a despotic religious, and corporate fascist, government might look like; or remotely comprehend the level of damage a dictatorial regime would wreak on a population. It is likely true that one of the greatest gifts the Founding Fathers bestowed on America was the concept of a government with checks and balances and separation of powers. One thing some Americans may have taken note of over the past seven years is that anytime a court, at any level, does its job and rules according to the Constitution and against religious Republicans, that court becomes a conservative’s mortal enemy.
One often hears conservative pundits opine that the solution to any court that dares to follow the Constitution and not Republican demands is ignore the ruling, nullify the court, or remove the offending jurists from the bench. Fortunately, at least for now, the separation of powers protects the courts from vindictive Republican legislators, but if the courts are in Kansas, that separation of powers and checks and balances is one vote and governor’s signature away from disappearing. Without a functioning judicial system in place, Kansas Republicans and Governor Sam Brownback can enact the corporate and religious dictatorship all Republicans lust to implement on the people at all levels of government.
Kansas’ Republican-dominated legislature, in league with Republican Sam Brownback, are panting to pass and enact a new law that political experts say “effectively nullifies the Kansas Judiciary system.” The GOP legislature and Brownback say that is precisely the intent of Senate Bill 439; nullify the liberal, activist, and out-of-control judiciary. The group that earned the despotic ire of Brownback and Republicans is the Kansas Supreme Court – for adhering closely to the United States and Kansas Constitution. Republicans are furious the state’s High Court ruled that Brownback’s education cuts violated the Constitution’s funding mandate, ruled against religious Republicans attempting to ban and criminalize abortion, and cannot use the death penalty to entertain the population.
Senate Bill 439 is currently before the Judiciary Committee packed with Republicans. When it is passed and signed by Brownback it will mandate impeachment of any Judge in Kansas “who acts contrary to the wishes of the Republican legislature.” What that means in starker language is that “any Judge who strikes down or modifies any law the legislature passes, for any reason, even if the law is unconstitutional and/or violates federal laws, the state legislature will impeach them” and throw them off the court. Then Governor Brownback can appoint a tea party acolyte to do religious and corporate Republicans’ bidding and issue the rulings they have been praying and paying for.
It is noteworthy that the Brownback law passed last year defunding the Kansas’ Judiciary for acting contrary to Republicans was declared “unconstitutional” by the Kansas Supreme Court. That makes this latest Brownback move a thuggish vendetta and warning to the Justices on the Kansas’ Supreme Court. It is also a tyrannical ploy to allow Brownback to rule by religious and corporate Republican edict without interference from the Constitution.
By now some Americans are aware of the monumental economic catastrophe Brownback’s trickle down tax cuts have wrought on the state, and the situation is only getting worse after Brownback’s re-election on the grounds of “the fetus.” As Esquire writer Charles Pierce noted, “the sorry condition of Kansas under complete tea party dominance serves as a textbook, laboratory-tested example of what unchecked Republican policies lead to.”
Brownback is still incensed that two years ago the Supreme Court ruled that as the duly-elected Kansas governor, both he and his tea party legislature are required to follow existing state laws and the Kansas’ Constitution Brownback’s severe trickle down tax cuts for the rich and corporations has made following the law and Constitution’s mandate to adequately fund education impossible; not that Brownback or Republicans intend to fund education, the state is nearly bankrupt due to Brownback’s tax cuts. Brownback wants ultimate unchallenged authority to rule by edict, and wiping out the Judiciary branch will eliminate the remaining obstacle to Brownback’s absolute despotism.
Americans should be acclimated to Republicans “just talking” about getting rid of courts and Judges that fail to acquiesce to Republican demands even if they are unconstitutional. But this Republican bill in Kansas is as distinctive as it is a frightening sign of the GOP’s true intent to rule absolutely. It is unlikely that up to this juncture in American history that there has ever been “an explicit measure created specifically for one branch of government to nullify another branch’s authority as a form of ‘punishment’ for not yielding to religious Republican ideology.”
This action defines a despotic administration where the legislature is conspiring with the governor to enact a law “specifically designed to intimidate and threaten the Judiciary into accepting the dictates of a Republican legislature.” As Charles Pierce wrote in explaining the absolutist, dogma-driven, and religious fervor of these tea party acolytes;
“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, eliminate 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.”
The American people have to start understanding, and they better start right now, that everything that is and has been happening in Kansas is exactly what a Republican Congress with a Trump, Cruz, Rubio, or Kasich as president will do to America. For dog’s sake, even with a Democrat in the White House, congressional Republicans and GOP-state legislatures have shamelessly attempted to pass myriad unconstitutional laws and talked openly about rewriting the parts of the Constitution dealing with the federal Judiciary. This is especially true every time an Appellate or High Court issues a ruling contrary to Republicans’ religious, bigoted, and corporate demands. Just look at the Republican Senate’s refusal to do their Constitutional duty and even consider an Obama appointment to the Supreme Court.
What is happening in Kansas is “an ominous reminder” that Republicans so hate the people, established laws, and the Constitution that they will never stop until they are allowed to rule unfettered by religious and corporate edicts. Kansas should also be a reminder that no matter how devastating a tyrant like Brownback is to the state’s residents, Republicans re-elected him because he has a special secret weapon every Republican keeps close at hand as an October surprise; the fetus.
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.