Kansas: plan to impeach state supreme court for “usurping” legislature passes Senate 21-19; “high crimes and misdemeanors” now to include political offenses

A plan (SB 439) to impeach members of the Kansas Supreme Court for “usurping” the legislature cleared the Senate today on a 21-19 vote. During debate proponents cited to various decisions of the state’s supreme court as proving the need to be able to remove the justices, in particular decisions by the court regarding school finance. Proponents argued that while the state constitution limited impeachment to “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors” that “other high crimes and misdemeanors” under the “original meaning” of the term was not limited to criminal offenses but include political actions as well.

Update: media reports here and here. Key quote: “These are not necessarily criminal acts, nor do they have to be.”

The new, expanded list of impeachable offenses included in “other high crimes and misdemeanors” now includes

  1. commission of offenses which bear on the justice’s fitness for the duties such justice holds, which such justice is bound by oath or affirmation to perform;
  2. commission of other indictable criminal offenses;
  3. commission of a breach of the public trust;
  4. commission of a breach of judicial ethics;
  5. failure to perform adequately the duties of office;
  6. attempting to subvert fundamental laws and introduce arbitrary power;
  7. attempting to usurp the power of the legislative or executive branch of government;
  8. exhibiting discourteous conduct toward litigants, jurors, witnesses, lawyers or others with whom the justice deals in an official capacity;
  9. exhibiting wanton or reckless judicial conduct;
  10. exhibiting personal misbehavior or misconduct;
  11. failure to properly supervise, administer or discipline judicial personnel;
  12. such other actions which in accordance with section 28 of article 2 of the constitution of the state of Kansas may constitute grounds for impeachment