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SPOTLIGHT
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Kline's fall

Published on -10/29/2013, 9:30 AM

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Despite serving only one term as Kansas attorney general, Phill Kline continues to receive attention for his tenure. Pretty impressive given he hasn't been in that position since 2007.

Not so impressive, of course, is the particular attention he still garners. Most recently it was an official sanction from the Kansas Supreme Court, rewarding Kline's four-year term with an indefinite suspension of his Kansas law license.

Not that Kline likely cares. His Kansas license already was lost for not keeping up with his registration fees, plus he doesn't live in the Sunflower State any longer. He now is a visiting law professor at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University in Virginia.

But in case the state's top law enforcement official decides to return, it will be at least three years before he even can apply to have his license reinstated. On Friday, the state's highest court found that Kline had difficulty recognizing the law's limits, his professional obligations, and an "overzealous advocacy" that marked his office. The justices upheld a recommendation from the Kansas Board of Discipline for Attorneys to suspend Kline's license for repeated "ethical misconduct."

Kline was an ardent opponent of abortion. In Kansas, that's no crime.

As attorney general, however, Kline took his passion to levels possible only because of his position. He repeatedly tangled with Dr. George Tiller, who offered abortion services in Wichita until he was murdered. Kline targeted Planned Parenthood, filing 107 criminal charges against one Kansas City clinic in 2007 alone. Not surprisingly, all of those charges since have been dismissed.

Kline's harassment included threatening doctors and nurses with jail time if they didn't turn over confidential medical records. He tried to justify combing through files of all late-term abortions by claiming he was investigating potential child-rape cases. On numerous occasions he directed staff members to present purposefully misleading documents in court, when Kline himself wasn't offering false testimony.

"The violations we have found are significant and numerous, and Kline's inability or refusal to acknowledge or address their significance is particularly troubling in light of his service as the chief prosecuting attorney for this state and its most populous county," the court wrote.

Naturally, Kline denies any wrongdoing. And his supporters believe him.

"This is just another layer of icing on the Kansas Tiller/Sebelius late-term abortion corruption cake," said Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life.

Culp and others are free to believe as they will. The Kansas Supreme Court's ruling, however, serves as a reminder that public officials are not free to pursue personal agendas at the expense of public confidence, integrity and the law.

Particularly when the official is the top lawman in the state.

Editorial by Patrick Lowry

plowry@dailynews.net

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