Media selective about Kansas Supreme Court partisanship

09/26/2014 09:00

Kansas is a "red" conservative state with a "blue" state Supreme Court and a liberal media supporting the latter.  But even the slavish Kansas media is having a hard time keeping the illusion alive that the behavior of the Kansas' top Court is ethically disciplined and above politics.

Last week the Court rushed to rule that the name of a Democrat candidate for U.S. Senate would not appear on the upcoming ballot.

No one disputes that the withdrawal was aimed at consolidating opposition to pro-life GOP Sen. Pat Roberts behind a newly-emerged, "independent-but-Democrat leaning," pro-abortion, multi-millionaire challenger.

The widely acknowledged impact of the Kansas Supreme Court's decision could be to help unseat Roberts. The media gleefully positioned the ruling as slapping down a partisan Secretary of State who would not deem a candidate's hasty withdrawal as legal.

But the Court was not done. It gave Democrats another gift: the time delay they needed to avoid selecting a replacement candidate for the Democrat ticket, as required by law. The Court on Tuesday sent that issue to a lower court with an indefensible excuse, read: The Kansas Supremes Give Democrats Exactly What They Wanted . . . Again

However, another story arose the same day, one the press groaned inwardly to report because it shredded what few excuses there were to insist the Court's decision was above board: complaints from the GOP that a fundraiser for the extremely anti-life Democrat gubernatorial candidate would be held that night at the home of State Supreme Court Justice, Carol Beier!

The most incensed media outlet was the uber-liberal (and rather raunchy) "alternative" online source, The Pitch, based in Kansas City. Reporter Steve Vockrodt wrote

[Carol Beier is] often accused by the state's Republican activists ofadvancing stridently liberal ideology on the state's highest court.
A Tuesday-evening backyard barbecue at Beier's house thrown in support of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Paul Davis,however, seems tailor-made to amplify such claims while calling into question the judge's integrity.
"It's my husband's event," Beier tells The Pitch. "I've taken pains not to be involved in it."
But it's hard to see the upside to holding a campaign event at the home of a top judicial official, someone who could have a say on the legal muster of legislation that Davis might sign as a future governor.At best, it's reckless.
Both Beier and Davis are lawyers who should understand that even the appearance of a conflict of interest is a troublesome prospect. But neither seems bothered by the question today.

While it is true that no rule in the Kansas Code of Judicial Conduct limits the political activities of a judge's family, the media is warning Beier, and the Court, such blatantly partisan stunts are nearly impossible for the media to spin as passing the smell test.  The media will, however, continue to help the liberals and anti-lifers. They sanitized the Paul Davis lap dance story and refused to link it to his role in opposing (and mocking) state proposals to regulate strip clubs over the past few years. (see Community Defense bill vote here)

The media has portrayed the Kansas state Supreme Court ruling as a rebuke to a partisan, partisan Secretary of State-not as inappropriate activism by a pro-Democrat Court wanting to help prevent the Republican Party's takeover of the U.S. Senate. But consider....

  • There was no media mention that the Supreme Court majority are Sebelius-appointees unvetted by the Senate and selected by an elitist committee.
  • There was no questioning why a longtime Democrat advisor and long-time business partner with the state Democrat Party, Justice Dan Biles, didn't recuse himself from an issue so critical to the democrat party interests.

It is supposed to be commonly held that the media and judges discipline themselves to be neutral. But consider, as a mental exercise, whether the Kansas Court rulings and media stories would be the same if it were the GOP overturning the results of a state primary to achieve a back-room-made deal disadvantaging the Democrats.