Separation Schmeparation
June 10, 2015 6:11 AM   Subscribe

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has signed a bill that defunds the entire state's judiciary if it rules against a law he favors
posted by leotrotsky (93 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
oh that zany Kansas

what kind of unconstitutional mischief will it get into next
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:17 AM on June 10, 2015 [32 favorites]


In Iowa we just fired the judges.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:22 AM on June 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Why does Brownback hate America?
posted by rtha at 6:22 AM on June 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


I am terrified of the version of the future these people want.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:23 AM on June 10, 2015 [37 favorites]


Jesuseffinchrist. I don't even... How the... Whaaaa????

I mean...What's next? Brownback sends the state police to arrest any judge ruling against him? Indictments against non-compliant judges?

Geez...Comments like "You know who else..." used to be jokes. I'm not so sure anymore...
posted by Thorzdad at 6:24 AM on June 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


Gov. Brownback holds a law degree from the University of Kansas, where presumably they teach about the separation of powers.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:24 AM on June 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


Brownback also signed a law to allow enforcement of voter registration laws...because...there were about 100 cases reported, that could be, if investigated, voter fraud. In essence, a law that deals with .003 of the state. That is good legislating.

The bigger issue is the Koch agenda: disable the government, impair the government, stop the government.
posted by zerobyproxy at 6:30 AM on June 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Brownback sends the state police to arrest any judge ruling against him?

Nah, he'll just tattle.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:30 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Every time I see Brownback in the news I take solace in the knowledge that while our state government is dysfunctional and entirely unwilling to face reality, at least it's not Kansas.
posted by doomsey at 6:33 AM on June 10, 2015 [9 favorites]


They probably got the idea from their neighbor to the south.
posted by TedW at 6:35 AM on June 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Seriously, Kansans voted for this? I know hell is other people but I usually expect better than this. Brownback and his supporters really are committed to getting people back to that state of nature . So props for the commitment to making Kansas life short, brutish, nasty and small souled.
posted by jadepearl at 6:35 AM on June 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


In Iowa we just fired the judges.

No we did that at the federal level too.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:35 AM on June 10, 2015


Every time I see Brownback in the news I take solace in the knowledge that while our state government is dysfunctional and entirely unwilling to face reality, at least it's not Kansas.

Kansas, the Mississsippi to our Alabama.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:36 AM on June 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


Kansastan?
Brownbackistan?
posted by Thorzdad at 6:37 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Do you hate America or just the Constitution?" is the question Brownback and all his supporters in this matter should be asked, continously.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 6:40 AM on June 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


Another example of elected officials ignoring their oath of office (to uphold the constitution of the state of _____ and the USA) and taking actions they KNOW will be laughed out of the courtroom, but which will earn them lots of crazykibbles from their base.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 6:45 AM on June 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


I don't really understand people who want to dismantle our political system to make sure they and their cohorts are unchallenged at the top of the mountain, even if doing so steadily grinds the mountain into a molehill.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:49 AM on June 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


I would love to see the courts in Kansas call his bluff. The options are either chaos as the judiciary shuts down, or another demonstration that the grand experiment that is Kansas needs to be torn out by the roots.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 6:50 AM on June 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


Poe's Law is proven once again.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 6:51 AM on June 10, 2015


I take some comfort in the fact that these kinds of shenanigans (see also the pending SCOTUS case on the ACA) are not the actions of a political movement that's confident in its continued popular support, even with a pet TV network in Fox News.

Which makes sense given that the pro-plutocrat agenda of the likes of Brownback and Scott Walker, and the failure of their policies to deliver the promised prosperity for anyone other than the actual intended beneficiaries -- the super-rich -- is increasingly obvious.
posted by Gelatin at 6:53 AM on June 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


I am terrified of the version of the future these people want.

It's terrible to read this article and know that he got reelected anyway. Make the rich richer, eliminate the middle class, take more from the poor, and make most of the community even more poor all the while bankrupting the State. It's a popular model in the States and it's completely out in the open as is the hatred and contempt for basic humanity. Pretty much every word Brownback has said about the effects of his policies has been total bullshit and the exact opposite of what he says. But still he and his like get elected.
posted by juiceCake at 7:00 AM on June 10, 2015 [11 favorites]


I wish I had your optimism, Gelatin. Unfortunately, time and time again, Americans have gone above and beyond the call to show they are capable of voting against logic and their own interests.

When an entire legislature and the governor can easily enact such a law (hell, even get it out of committee!), I think we are entering a new, and frightening, stage in the right's drive against representative democracy.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:01 AM on June 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


Kansas: the Mississippi of the Oklahoma of the North Dakota of the Indiana of the Florida of America.
posted by duffell at 7:04 AM on June 10, 2015 [22 favorites]


Kansas: the Mississippi of the Oklahoma of the North Dakota of the Indiana of the Florida of America.

Whoops, left Arizona off of the Nightmare Brigade. My bad. Something something Arizona.
posted by duffell at 7:08 AM on June 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


Hey, don't mess with Texas!
posted by Lyme Drop at 7:10 AM on June 10, 2015


Seems reasonable.
posted by diogenes at 7:13 AM on June 10, 2015


As a popular saying goes, the states are the laboratories meth labs of democracy.

For real though, the fact that Brownback actually seems to be pulling this shit off without real political consequences must be giving his fellow hardline conservative governors some serious chub. Expect more of this.
posted by duffell at 7:14 AM on June 10, 2015 [20 favorites]


"Proceed, Kansas."

*sips tea with Kermit*
posted by LastOfHisKind at 7:18 AM on June 10, 2015


unchallenged at the top of the mountain, even if doing so steadily grinds the mountain into a molehill.

It's Kansas, so the best they can hope for is starting with a landfill.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:18 AM on June 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


This is similar to what got Rick Perry a felony indictment while he was serving as governor of Texas.
posted by adamrice at 7:20 AM on June 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Kansastan indeed.
Without a new budget, the state has no legal authority to pay employees for work after Saturday. Employees’ compensation lags several weeks behind their work, so their pay for the two-week period beginning Sunday won’t be distributed until early July.

The bill approved by lawmakers lets them [sic] state employees stay on the job [without pay] for the next few weeks.
Conservative voters love this shit. They eat it right up. I don't understand.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:21 AM on June 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


> Which makes sense given that the pro-plutocrat agenda of the likes of Brownback and Scott Walker, and the failure of their policies to deliver the promised prosperity for anyone other than the actual intended beneficiaries -- the super-rich -- is increasingly obvious.

As obvious as the Republican Party's alleged looming demographic disaster, which I predict will always remain one generation away.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:22 AM on June 10, 2015 [10 favorites]


Few people know that the governor's original name was Brownshirt. He changed to avoid spoilers.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:22 AM on June 10, 2015 [20 favorites]


Few people know that the governor's original name was Brownshirt.

Da winnah!
posted by sutt at 7:27 AM on June 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


I am confident that enraging the judicial branch of government will come with absolutely no long-term consequences at all.
posted by Mitrovarr at 7:31 AM on June 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


I take some comfort in the fact that these kinds of shenanigans (see also the pending SCOTUS case on the ACA) are not the actions of a political movement that's confident in its continued popular support, even with a pet TV network in Fox News.

It may also be a sign of a movement that no longer needs nor cares about popular support. They're holding on to that scarily large chunk of the population who will vote for a conservative candidate who eats babies as long as they think the people they don't like are getting it even worse. All they have to do is disenfranchise, terrorize, and discourage everyone else.

For real though, the fact that Brownback actually seems to be pulling this shit off without real political consequences must be giving his fellow hardline conservative governors some serious chub. Expect more of this.

Part of the reason there are so few consequences is that much journalism, especially from self-consciously respectable outfits, seems to treat any sort of reality check as a threat to "objectivity." Somewhere along the way, "objectivity" in political reporting was replaced by "ideologically neutral, acts be damned." Look at that New York Times headline linked above: "Courts Budget Intensifies Kansas Dispute Over Powers." The wording makes it sound like there's some kind of internal struggle over power, rather than an outrageously unconstitutional power grab by one party.

The real genius of Fox News was never just that it fed propaganda to viewers and, eventually, started to dictate the ideological agenda for conservative politicians. No, the real genius was that constructing a nakedly partisan news organization that claimed to be "objective," they seized control over the very idea of what was ideologically neutral.

Now anything that does not give over at least half the voices at the table to an unchallenged, nakedly ideological content from the right is "liberal bias," at least in comparison; it is no longer "objective" in the BS sense that word already acquired in commercial journalism. So now Brownback's efforts to defund judges who rule against him is headlined as a "dispute over powers," much as an argument between a creationist and an evolutionary biologist or between an oil company shill and 97% of the scientific community is reported as a case of "differing views."
posted by kewb at 7:34 AM on June 10, 2015 [51 favorites]


Whoo boy! When I first saw this I got real scurred because I thought it might give our half-bought-and-paid-for, half-just-staggeringly-dumb governor a whole new way to continue to chip away at the very foundation of our once-proud state. Then I remembered that the state judiciary is wholly in the pocket of the ol' goggle-eyed homunculus, as it has been for the duration of his time in office, and it's an shambling, pathetic excuse for a non-partisan judiciary anyway, so he wouldn't even need to do anything like this because it would be redundant. And then I felt a little better resumed feeling overwhelmed by crushing, inexorable despair.

Progressives in Kansas, I feel you. Fuck everyone who says, "hurr, dummies, you get what you vote for! no sympathy!" because I've been working my ass off to get these damnable fools out of office in the Koch-owned Republic of Wississippi along with just under half of the rest of the registered voters here and I know you all are working your asses off, too.
posted by divined by radio at 7:40 AM on June 10, 2015 [17 favorites]


Next step: merge the executive and legislative branches.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:40 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Kansas is proof that if you vote for Republicans come hell or high water, then hell and high water is exactly what you'll get.
posted by jonp72 at 7:43 AM on June 10, 2015 [32 favorites]


Republicans will destroy this country.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 7:45 AM on June 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


The fact that southeast Kansas was once one of the hot beds of Socialism in America is an incredible instruction in how the disappearance of industry can affect the political perspectives of a region.

Living in Missouri with a shared border with Kansas, is a double-edged sword. The conservatives all have a fount of ideas to draw upon for their own agenda in our conservative controlled legislature. But, they're generally not wild enough to not appreciate how much Kansas' experimentation has gone awry, and more importantly, Missouri is a state where there's enough Democratic votes to keep most of the state-wide offices (in state government, at least) in the hands of another party who can at least frustrate and slow down the wild ideas.

But Kansas. It's bleeding again, but from self-inflicted wounds.
posted by Atreides at 7:48 AM on June 10, 2015 [9 favorites]


Every time I see Brownback in the news I take solace in the knowledge that while our state government is dysfunctional and entirely unwilling to face reality, at least it's not Kansas.

It's cold comfort. ALEC and its allies want Kansas to be the template for all 50 states.
posted by blucevalo at 8:09 AM on June 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


In other words, laugh-and-point at Kansas or pity it all you want, but odds are better than even that what's happening in Kansas is coming to your state if your state doesn't have a Democratic lock on the state leg, and maybe even if it does.
posted by blucevalo at 8:11 AM on June 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


This is obviously a constitutional crisis in this state, and the latest move seems like a nuke.

But didn't the Supreme Court start it? If you're worrying about separation of powers, then budgeting is the job of the legislature. When the Supreme Court ordered the legislature to spend money on something (no matter what, and no matter why) it was overstepping its bounds and usurping legislative authority.

The ultimate check on the legislature is, or should be, the voters. If they don't think enough money is being spent, then they can replace senators and representatives as necessary with others having other ideas. It really isn't up to the courts to decide what bills and budgets the legislature should be passing.

And if the court goes out of control and starts usurping legislative authority, what should the legislature (and governor) do about it?

I think their current answer was the wrong one. The right answer was probably impeachment. But they were right to respond, even if they did it the wrong way.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:18 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I know it's already here.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 8:20 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


The current battle began in 2010, when a coalition of school districts sued the state, seeking to force the Legislature to reinstate school funding that was cut during the Great Recession, under a provision of the state constitution that mandates adequate levels of school funding.

If legislation is passed that violates the state constitution, the state Supreme Court has every right to review and say "nope," whether that legislation is about budgeting or anything else.
posted by delfin at 8:21 AM on June 10, 2015 [14 favorites]


Rule the defunding law unconstitutional. Provoke a constitutional crisis. "He's made his decision, now let him enforce it," etc. US Constitution guarantees to every state a republican (little R) form of government. Illegal executive moves against the judiciary in a crisis leads to federal intervention. Civil war. Hillary Clinton the next Lincoln.

Maybe?
posted by adoarns at 8:22 AM on June 10, 2015


Hillary Clinton the next Lincoln. Maybe?

More likely the next Buchanan if anything.
posted by duffell at 8:24 AM on June 10, 2015


Rhymes with droll.
posted by y2karl at 8:28 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


But didn't the Supreme Court start it? If you're worrying about separation of powers, then budgeting is the job of the legislature. When the Supreme Court ordered the legislature to spend money on something (no matter what, and no matter why) it was overstepping its bounds and usurping legislative authority.

The Kansas state constitution includes Article 6, section b, which reads:
The legislature shall make suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state. No tuition shall be charged for attendance at any public school to pupils required by law to attend such school, except such fees or supplemental charges as may be authorized by law. The legislature may authorize the state board of regents to establish tuition, fees and charges at institutions under its supervision.
This language would seem to obligate the legislature to make adequate provision for the schools, and clearly the Kansas courts agree. Many states have clauses in their state constitutions that reinforce financial obligations. See Illinois, too, where neither the legislature nor the governor can vacate pension obligations because the state constitution requires that these be funded.

I suppose the "right response" would be to amend the state constitution in this case, though that's "right" only in the sense of "procedurally right."
posted by kewb at 8:29 AM on June 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


Well, I realize it's conventionally applied to nations, but the term is "failed state."

Maybe the Federal Government needs to simply declare Kansas (and a few other states I could think of) not competent to handle their affairs and put them into federal receivership.
posted by Naberius at 8:31 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


The ultimate check on the legislature is, or should be, the voters. If they don't think enough money is being spent, then they can replace senators and representatives as necessary with others having other ideas. It really isn't up to the courts to decide what bills and budgets the legislature should be passing.

Chocolate Pickle, what your analysis conveniently misses are the legal provisions that assure equality of education in Kansas. Kansas school districts sued to restore more equitable funding and the courts, acting well within their domain of power known as "the judiciary", ruled in favor of the plaintiffs.

That's not an illegitimate power grab; that's US civil checks and balances.

On preview, what kewb said.
posted by mistersquid at 8:32 AM on June 10, 2015 [9 favorites]


> As a popular saying goes, the states are the laboratories meth labs of democracy

Say what you want about meth labs, but at least they demonstrate a belief in science. This, on the other hand...this is some seriously unconstitutional bullshit. As H.L Mencken said, "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard."
posted by mosk at 8:34 AM on June 10, 2015 [7 favorites]


"The fact that southeast Kansas was once one of the hot beds of Socialism in America is an incredible instruction in how the disappearance of industry can affect the political perspectives of a region."

Interesting. I was born in a Wisconsin city when it had a Socialist mayor.
posted by klarck at 8:37 AM on June 10, 2015


This (and the other cases linked in comments) are a good reminder that the separation of powers is something which is suggested by the constitution, but must be actively maintained in practice. Political considerations can constrain the actions of the courts, even the federal supreme court, as can practical concerns.

That doesn't mean that we are all doomed, however. There are some great examples of the courts really turning the tables on the other branches. I think the best has to be when John Marshal dunked on Thomas Jeffersion.
posted by ethansr at 8:41 AM on June 10, 2015


But didn't the Supreme Court start it? If you're worrying about separation of powers, then budgeting is the job of the legislature. When the Supreme Court ordered the legislature to spend money on something (no matter what, and no matter why) it was overstepping its bounds and usurping legislative authority.

The Supreme Court ordered the legislature to enforce state laws and the state constitution. That's clearly within its power, and neither overstepping its bounds nor usurping legislative authority.
posted by zarq at 8:42 AM on June 10, 2015 [21 favorites]


"Technically, Mom, Dad started it when he told me to stop hitting my little brother."
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:47 AM on June 10, 2015 [9 favorites]


This language would seem to obligate the legislature to make adequate provision for the schools, and clearly the Kansas courts agree.

For what it's worth, the same thing has happened here in Washington State.

The proper way to change these kinds of things is to amend the state constitution. But presumably, Brownback and his allies don't think they could do that successfully.
posted by Slothrup at 8:47 AM on June 10, 2015


On a lighter note, here's Sam Brownback reading some DMX lyrics.
posted by box at 8:49 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've always wondered what Somalia was like. Now I can experience it with a mere eight-hour drive!
posted by JohnFromGR at 8:53 AM on June 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


Republicans will destroy this country.

while convincing their followers that it's ACTUALLY the fault of the poors/gays/blacks/wimmins/unions.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:12 AM on June 10, 2015 [15 favorites]


They're holding on to that scarily large chunk of the population who will vote for a conservative candidate who eats babies as long as they think the people they don't like are getting it even worse.

That's their abortion alternative.
posted by maryr at 9:25 AM on June 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


a lungful of dragon: “Republicans will destroy this country.”
They have to destroy the country in order to save it, of course.
posted by ob1quixote at 9:27 AM on June 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


It's doubly troubling and sadly hilarious that Republicans and Tea Partiers (is there really any difference anymore?) cry to the heavens about the sacred nature of the constitution, particularly in regard to "freedom", firearms, and "religion" (read certain division of Christianity, as in the most fundamentalist) but are perfectly happy to violate it in other ways.

They're holding on to that scarily large chunk of the population who will vote for a conservative candidate who eats babies as long as they think the people they don't like are getting it even worse.

I am reminded, once again, of this.
posted by juiceCake at 9:28 AM on June 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Constitution guarantees to every state a republican (little R) form of government

Nominally, but that provision is unenforceable by the judiciary since it's a "political question" for the elected branches to hash out.
posted by jpe at 9:38 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


I live in Kansas and I did not vote for Brownback, but I don't think ANYONE deserves to live with this non-functional government no matter how dumbass their past voting decisions may have been.
posted by galvanized unicorn at 9:49 AM on June 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


Up next: Brownback abolishes term limits in Kansas. Kris Kobach oversees the election, Brownback reelected with 97% of the vote.

Congrats, Kansas. You've elected a dictator.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:28 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


See Illinois, too, where neither the legislature nor the governor can vacate pension obligations because the state constitution requires that these be funded.

Actually, the Illinois constitution requires that pension benefits not be reduced for existing employees; it doesn't say anything about funding those benefits. And that's exactly why Illinois has only funded its pensions to about 40%.
posted by sbutler at 10:43 AM on June 10, 2015


Republicans will destroy this country.

Pretty sure they already have. We're just the proverbial chicken running around with its head cut off at this point.
posted by Token Meme at 11:23 AM on June 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'll tell you what is a constant source of dismay to me, and this is true throughout the country, but in Kansas in particular. If you're a leader on the right wing, no matter how wrong you are or how frequently, your reputation among your base will never be lost or even diminished. Brownback is a comprehensive failure by his own professed standards. And yet he never seems to lose currency. The worst consequence he can ever expect is that at some point, long after he achieves political irrelevance, his party will conveniently forget that his tenure ever happened. He'll be the W of Kansas.
posted by Flexagon at 11:23 AM on June 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


no matter how wrong you are or how frequently, your reputation among your base will never be lost or even diminished

That's because you're judged by your faith and not your works.
posted by Slothrup at 11:47 AM on June 10, 2015 [12 favorites]


If you serve people cow pies long enough and insist it's chocolate cake, they eventually forget what chocolate cake tastes like.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:54 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


That's something that kinda freaks me out about The Family (Brownback is, of course, a member)--it's like the missing piece.

The only thing that seems to discredit or bring these guys down is a few particular types of scandal, and here's a secretive group that discourages folks from that kind of behavior, and, when it does happen, tries to persuade them to keep things quiet.
posted by box at 11:57 AM on June 10, 2015


no matter how wrong you are or how frequently, your reputation among your base will never be lost or even diminished

Honour, reason, fairness, accountability. These are all things his base pretends to give a shit about, but they really don't. The base, along with the politicians, are effectively insane and driven by fear, hatred, and selfishness. You say you're certain type of Christian, you say you oppose gay marriage, you slut shame, you say you're against abortion, you say you'll reduce taxes and unburden the economy and that's enough. If it doesn't work, it's the fault of someone else (i.e. the liberals, the godless liberals, the evil liberals, the "blacks" (Don Trump has always been friendly with the "blacks"), the immigrants, the foreigners, etc. The policies we've seen them put in place are more extreme versions of the policies they've put in place for years. The reaction to failure is to do the same thing again, except even more. Shortfall from cutting taxes? Let's cut taxes more, for the higher income brackets, and increase for the lower income brackets because there's way more of them and if they're not prosperous, they're lazy liberal leaching fucks.

We've seen this sort of thing before in both the States and other countries. The ultimate results are horrifying, as they always are when legislation and policy are motivated by fear and hatred.
posted by juiceCake at 12:03 PM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


The question really is how much gumption the court has, because this bill provision is unconstitutional on its face, the legislature is never going to actually defund the whole judicial branch, and if it did the courts have inherent authority to require the funds they need.

Sadly, many judges these days have the gumption of a wet rag, and so this kind of effort to intimidate -- combined with a real disrespect for the rule of law or basic constitutional principles - - is appealing for right wingers.

Me, I'm still staggered that Brownback broke Kansas' economy and was reelected.
posted by bearwife at 12:32 PM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


In other words, laugh-and-point at Kansas or pity it all you want, but odds are better than even that what's happening in Kansas is coming to your state if your state doesn't have a Democratic lock on the state leg, and maybe even if it does.
posted by blucevalo at 10:11 AM


As a Wisconsinite, I can only reinforce the truth of this statement. It's disgusting, it's terrifying and it just seems like it's getting uglier and uglier and more and more powerful from the ground up. I think the Southern Strategy as the first shot, and now we're into some sort of new territory. The centralized ALEC style push as a "decentralized" movement (I mean by using the states, not the feds - it's clearly centralized as an organizational entity) to attack almost everything from the ground up.
posted by symbioid at 12:44 PM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Me, I'm still staggered that Brownback broke Kansas' economy and was reelected.

same issue as Wisconsin.

The people who can see what's going on are the same ones that leave.
posted by ocschwar at 12:44 PM on June 10, 2015


This seems apropos, from a recent Neil deGrasse Tyson commencement speech:

If you have an issue with politicians it's because you have an issue with your fellow citizens who put them there.
posted by bearwife at 12:47 PM on June 10, 2015


What Kewb said, only moreso.

I can outline some of the reasons -why- the media has gone all milquetoast on this stuff.

Basically, actually calling politicians on their bullshit (even when it is obviously lies/not working/blatantly illegal/what have you) causes them to start denying access. Losing access is the sort of thing that gets investigative reporters fired from most of the major news providers, because they love that "nonpartisan" air.

So they softball -everything-, even the blatantly insane stuff. No one is really doing journalism these days. Not in the sense that Murrow and his peers did.
posted by Archelaus at 1:24 PM on June 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


This may be a stupid question: what happens if people commit crimes while the judiciary is hypothetically shut down? Anything? Can anyone be arrested?

If they do get arrested, I suppose there wouldn't be a way to post bail. At some point, would there be recourse to federal court for a habeas corpus if nobody can be charged with anything?
posted by Huffy Puffy at 2:42 PM on June 10, 2015


It's unfortunate that we (well...the leg) are hitting this in such a hamhanded way, because there are legitimately interesting discussions to be had about judicial funding! There are a couple of cases that the Supreme Court of Canada decided in the 90s on how funding should be assessed, saying that a commission was needed in order to make recommendations, because there are serious problems about independence if the executive or legislature gets to arbitrarily set salaries as they please.

There's a bunch of questions that arise about control of their own processes (how to assign judges to locations or courts or cases), and who can set limits on number of files per judge, or a bunch of things like that. And they're interesting! They go to the fundamental questions around how to keep a judge independent from the government!

But instead Brownback is threatening to just cut funding if they don't rule in his favour, and that's just obviously terrible. Fuck him.
posted by Lemurrhea at 3:33 PM on June 10, 2015


At some point, would there be recourse to federal court for a habeas corpus if nobody can be charged with anything?

Well, you're under lock and key, without trial and no prospect of a trial, so it seems a cut&dry case for a federal habeas hearing.
posted by ocschwar at 4:14 PM on June 10, 2015


Keep it up, you Republican bastards. Good luck ever winning back the White House.
posted by 4ster at 5:46 PM on June 10, 2015


You mean the Republican bastards who are getting voted into state legislatures over and over, winning highly-gerrymandered districts? Do you really think anyone who votes for these feculent zit-collections isn't going to tick the box next to R in 2016, no matter whose name it is?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:05 PM on June 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Ok, granted, that may not have been my Best Most Well Thought-Out Comment, but I'm just saying that this party seems to me to be moving so far out of the mainstream that they are becoming a parody of themselves.
posted by 4ster at 6:40 PM on June 10, 2015


duffell: "the fact that Brownback actually seems to be pulling this shit off without real political consequences must be giving his fellow hardline conservative governors some serious chub."

Good news! Illinois Republican governor Bruce Rauner said that the Illinois Supreme Court was part of a "corrupt system" who were making irrational decisions against his proposed anti-union reforms and, if they were just appointed by the governor, wouldn't be beholden to anybody and could make better decisions!

klarck: "I was born in a Wisconsin city when it had a Socialist mayor."

"I'm a regular visitor here, but Milwaukee has certainly had its share of visitors!"
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:42 PM on June 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


I understand that in most jurisdictions judges are judges even if they can't get into a courtroom and even if they don't have any staff around. In the Commonwealth their power comes directly from the Crown; I suppose in the USA it comes directly from State or Federal constitutions. Their authority to do the necessary is really only limited by convention. I mean, they can appoint bailiffs, issue "court orders", and if those orders are disobeyed they can have people locked up for "contempt of court".

I suppose that in theory you could have a standoff between a State militia under the authority of its Governor, and an army of bailiffs under the authority of State judges. That would be a lot of fun to watch, but I suspect that what would actually happen is that some Constitutional power to replace governors would be invoked and (if the Governor didn't stand down) it would somehow become a Federal issue and the National Guard or whatever would be called in.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:05 PM on June 10, 2015


They don't care if they're sinking into parody as long as the votes and the money keep flowing, though.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:07 PM on June 10, 2015


feckless fecal fear mongering: "feculent zit-collection." Both eponysterical and the name of my next band.

Thorzdad: It's Brownbackistan. That's the proper name of where I live. Dammit.

I went nuts on Sam on Twitter last night over this. If he noticed, he's playing it real cool. And a lot of us are wondering what a constitutional crisis will look like here.

There was, in the last gubernatorial campaign, a strong Democratic challenger. A great many of us actually thought he could win. Kansas has, traditionally, not been opposed to putting Democrats in the governor's office. Two things went against Paul Davis, though: 1) he tried too hard to say he wouldn't raise taxes to fix the state's budget, and 2) he didn't have the all-important (R) next to his name on the ballot. He had quite a respectable showing, despite those handicaps, but still didn't make it.

The day after the election, even in the bright-red "no new rights for gays" city where I live, I didn't encounter anyone who would admit to having voted for Sam. There was no obvious joy that he was still at the helm. And as a friend pointed out to me a couple of days ago, before the election there were Brownback bumper stickers everywhere. Now, there are none. Winners don't generally take those off so quickly.

Absolutely, the Kochs and ALEC are pulling the strings, and a moderate Republican is as bad as an Obummer-loving socialist and will be primaried out of the legislature. But make no mistake: Brownback is a true believer in what he's doing. For reasons I will never understand, he's in government to kill government. Furthermore, he's not a liar. He told the people of Kansas up front, both times, what he wanted to do, and all the God-bothering future billionaires voted for him.

As I write, the legislature is meeting late into the night in the longest session in state history (about to reach $1 million in overtime costs) to try to hammer out a budget. The lawmakers have a sense of how angry their constituents are because they passed a bill, signed by Sam, declaring all state employees "essential" and not subject to furlough. But the members of the House-Senate tax committee say this is the last chance to get a tax increase through; if it fails, then the budget will be balanced by massive cuts, and no ox will be left ungored.

This state is so fucked.
posted by bryon at 11:21 PM on June 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


This can't possibly be something that will be constitutional in Kansas, certainly not if it got to the US Supreme Court. So, it will be disruptive and expensive and stupid. It's just one more way for the Fundamentalist Right to say Fuck You to everybody else. I'm awfully tired of being pissed off about this crap, and so glad I don't live in Kansas.
posted by theora55 at 2:03 PM on June 11, 2015


Wow. I read a linked piece about Brownback's 'policies' in Kansas with my mouth agape.

What must it be like to be poor living in a place like that? Jesus
posted by Myeral at 8:08 AM on June 12, 2015


I'm just saying that this party seems to me to be moving so far out of the mainstream that they are becoming a parody of themselves.

I think it's the opposite. The mainstream has already moved to this sort of nonsense. Everyone else is on the outside of it.
posted by juiceCake at 9:56 AM on June 13, 2015 [1 favorite]




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