Kansas: impeachment plans for judges chosen via merit/commission selection set for next week; Senators want to “assert ourselves” against judiciary, court decisions against legislature are “judicial misconduct”

A plan (discussed here) inserted at the last minute without a hearing into another bill by the Kansas Senate to expand the list of impeachable offenses for certain judges was pulled out of the bill by the full Kansas Senate. News reports indicate the plan will now be given a full committee hearing next week.

UPDATE 2/24/16: The hearing is now set for March 3 in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

SB 439 would expand the list of impeachable offenses for a member of the Kansas Supreme Court or District Courts (if chosen via merit/commission selection); judges of the Court of Appeals and District Court judges elected in nonpartisan elections would be unaffected.

Currently the state constitution lists only “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors” as the basis for impeachment. SB 439 would add by statute a list of new items including “attempting to usurp the power of the legislative or executive branch of government” and “attempting to subvert fundamental laws and introduce arbitrary power.”

Senators favoring the bill appear to be angry over recent state supreme court decisions finding the state legislature’s K-12 funding system unconstitutional and that such decisions may be “judicial misconduct.

Sen. Mitch Holmes, a St. John Republican, said the issue of addressing judicial misconduct has “just fallen by the wayside for generations.” It’s time that we, as an elective body, assert ourselves in certain circumstances,” he said.