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What’s the Matter With Kansas Journalism?


By Jalexson


I hereby place this essay in the public domain.  It may be reproduced in whole or in part on other websites or in print publications without payment.

Kansas once had crusading journalists such as Emporia Gazette editor William Allen White. In 1924, White became so upset with the reluctance of the major party gubernatorial candidates to take an aggressive stand against the Ku Klux Klan that he ran an independent campaign for governor. Today’s Kansas newspaper editors aren’t fit to be his copy boy/girl.


The Kansas Supreme Court has decided to overturn the Kansas Constitution and give itself the power to tell  the Kansas legislature  how much money to spend on education.


The Governor of Kansas cannot order the legislature to increase spending for anything. The President of the United States cannot order Congress to increase spending for anything. In 1776, King George III of England could not order the British Parliament to increase spending for anything.


Why then are Kansas newspaper editors so willing to accept the claim of the Kansas Supreme Court that it has a power the King/Queen of England hasn’t had for centuries? Are Kansas editors so prejudiced against elected officials that they believe a group of mere political appointees should run the government?


Kansas Supreme Court justices are basically chosen by those they are supposed to regulate, other attorneys. Although the Governor of Kansas nominally appoints justices, the choices are limited to individuals recommended by attorneys who may financially benefit from Supreme Court decisions.


Having issues decided by the courts provides work for the attorneys who represent clients in court cases. The people who try to persuade legislators to make decisions don’t have to be lawyers. Those who try to persuade the courts to make the same decisions do have to be lawyers.


Most editors would cry foul if the President, even if his name were Ralph Nader,  had to choose the head of the Environmental Protection Agency from a group recommended by companies that produce pollution or choose the Secretary of Energy from a group recommended by energy companies. So why do editors accept the idea that those in the law business should be able to choose Supreme Court Justices?


I believe that the entire system Kansas uses to finance education needs to be changed because it discriminates against students in poorer districts. I could agree with a court decision that the financing system violates the “equal protection” clause of the 14th Amendment because of such discrimination.


I could  support increasing state level spending on schools, many districts cannot afford higher local taxes.  However, any determination of the amount Kansans wish to spend on education has to remain with the branch of government closest to the people, the legislative branch, because the people ultimately have to pay for government spending programs.


In 1776 the American colonists fought a war because they weren’t allowed to select the members of the British Parliament who determined how much they should have to pay for government programs.  The colonists' slogan was "No taxation without representation."

 

Now Justices( or should it be Injustices) of the Kansas Supreme Court whom Kansas taxpayers don’t get to elect have decided to overturn that revolution and take spending decisions away from those that Kansas taxpayers do elect to the legislature.  The decision came in spite of the Preamble to the Kansas Constitution which states:  "We, the people of Kansas, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious privileges, in order to insure the full enjoyment of our rights as American citizens, do ordain and establish this constitution of the state of Kansas...."  Don't the editors who support the Court understand that the right to elect those who make spending decisions is one of the most important of those rights?


The Court's action demonstrates the wisdom of Patrick Henry who warned:  "However, where is the check on the power of the judiciary? If we fail to check the power of the judiciary, I predict that we will eventually live under judicial tyranny."


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