Published on -2/13/2014, 10:43 AM
Having practiced law in Kansas in the Hays area since Feb. 13, 1956, approximately 59 years, I am amused at the gyrations of Gov. Sam Brownback to dilute or redefine some provisions of our Constitution enacted and adopted by the Kansas Legislature.
Most of the background of our constitutional provisions as it relates to education, the court system, Legislature and the executive branches "was patterned after the United States Constitution, which was drafted primarily by our second president John Adams in Philadelphia."
Adams was a trial lawyer in Braintree, Mass., where he maintained a farming operation and a trial practice. He is the only prominent member of the revolutionary contingent of Washington, Hamilton, Jefferson and Patrick Henry who had not received a land grant before the revolutionary war. In short, Adams was a self-made man, married to a wonderful woman named Abigail who maintained the farming operation while he rode horseback from Braintree for approximately a 15-day trip to Philadelphia where he primarily was responsible for drafting the Declaration of Independence and forming and establishing the United States Constitution. On his second trip to Philadelphia, he devoted most of his time to the separation of powers.
He stated: "Essential to the stability of government and to an able and impartial administration of justice was separation of judicial power from both the legislative and executive. There must be an independent judiciary. Men of experience on the laws, of exemplary morals, invincible patience, unruffled calmness and indefatigable application should be subservient to none and appointed for life. Laws for the liberal education of youth, especially for the lower classes of people, are so extremely wise and useful that to a humane and generous mind, no expense for this purpose would be thought extravagant."
If the reader of this letter is interested in Adam's exact position, I would recommend the Pulitzer Prize-winning book written by David McCullough, and I might even suggest reading the criteria that was ever so carefully drafted which was the background of our entire government that we enjoy today.
Lastly, I am amused at some of my fellow lawyers who are in the Legislature and who are aligning themselves with Brownback to limit the power of the judiciary and to dictate to the court system how they should govern their particular division of government. In the short time I have been in the practice, I have watched our court system improve steadily under the leadership of judges, particularly those selected under the merit plan we enjoy today.
During the time Chief Justice Fatzer was on the bench, he promoted the merit system for both district and appellate judges, which was a vast improvement to what we had in 1956. Steadily since that time, our judicial system has been nothing but a vast improvement from what existed when I first was admitted. The method of selection of appellate judges and district court judges, as suggested by Brownback, flies in the face of our forefathers who carefully drafted our Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and the members of the Legislature who drafted the constitution and statutes in Kansas that govern our judicial system.
In closing let me say this: Brownback is a member of the bar of the state of Kansas, and all I can say to him in all of his current gyrations intending to limit the power of our court is: Shame on you, Gov. Brownback.
Thomas C. Boone