Kaye Scholer Represents Kansas District Court Judge Threatening Legal Challenge to Judicial Budget Bill

July 27, 2015

Earlier this month, Kaye Scholer, together with the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law and the Kansas law firm of Irigonegaray & Associates, filed a brief on behalf of Judge Larry Solomon, Chief Judge for Kansas’ 30th judicial district, threatening to file a legal challenge to a controversial judicial budget bill that could defund the state’s entire judiciary. 

The budgeting bill, which Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed last month, conditions court funding on a 2014 law 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.

Kaye Scholer, Brennan Center and Irigonegaray filed a petition for a declaratory judgment in state court in Kansas seeking to invalidate a law signed last spring by Governor Brownback and aimed at wresting from the Kansas Supreme Court its constitutional authority to administer the state’s unified court system. Judge Solomon argues that the law—which many in the state view as apparent retaliation for the Kansas Supreme Court’s unfavorable decision at the time in a case regarding the state’s system of educational funding—violates the separation of powers doctrine and is unconstitutional.

“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 Litigation Special Counsel Randy Sherman, who is leading our pro bono efforts in this case. “It is unconscionable that the legislature would attempt to condition the entire judicial budget on the outcome of a pending lawsuit.”

In the July brief, Judge Solomon asked the Shawnee County District Court to strike down the 2014 law and threatened a separate legal challenge to the budgeting bill.

In addition to Randy Sherman, the Kaye Scholer team includes Associates Charles Kreafle and David Giroux, with invaluable assistance at an earlier stage from Litigation Special Counsel Jane Parver and Associates Mike Gruver and Kimberly Gelfand.

» Read our earlier coverage.

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