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Kansas District Court Judge Threatens Legal Challenge to Judicial Budget Bill

In June, Gov. Sam Brownback signed a bill that could defund the entire Kansas judiciary. This naked attempt to intimidate the court threatens public confidence in an independent and impartial judiciary.

July 8, 2015

In a brief filed today, Larry T. Solomon, Chief Judge for Kansas’ Thirtieth Judicial District, threatened to file a legal challenge to a controversial judicial budget bill that could defund the state’s entire judiciary.

The budgeting bill (HB2005), signed last month by Gov. Sam Brownback (R), conditions court funding on a 2014 law (HB2338) that stripped the Kansas Supreme Court of administrative authority over district courts, stipulating that if any court strikes down the 2014 law, the judiciary will lose its entire budget.

Judge Solomon challenged that 2014 law earlier this year, calling it unconstitutional and a violation of the separation of powers doctrine. Today, Judge Solomon asked the Shawnee County District Court to strike down the 2014 law and threatened a separate legal challenge to the budgeting bill.

Judge Solomon is represented by the Brennan Center for Justice, Kaye Scholer LLP, and Irigonegaray & Associates.

“It is hard to imagine a more naked attempt to intimidate the courts, or one that so threatens the public’s confidence in an independent and impartial judiciary,” said Randolph Sherman of Kaye Scholer LLP. “It is unconscionable that the legislature would attempt to condition the entire judicial budget on the outcome of a pending lawsuit.”

“If the Court rules in Judge Solomon’s favor, we are fully prepared to seek an injunction to ensure that courts in Kansas can continue their vital work,” added Pedro Irigonegaray of Irigonegaray & Associates.

Read more on the case here.