To the editor:
A letter printed in the Feb. 7 Leavenworth Times provides a pro-court analysis of Kansas school funding cases. I find that analysis wanting and give a counter-view here.
Article six, section 6 of the Kansas Constitution assigns to the legislature the authority to "make suitable provision for finance" of public schools. The analysis accurately notes this, but then goes on in succeeding paragraphs to modify the wording, first to "properly fund" and then to "provide funding."
The modified wording is clearly of different meaning than the constitutional "make suitable provision for finance" which leaves room for a variety of approaches. Having thus confounded the constitution, the courts feel free to order the legislature to ignore their constitutional responsibility, and do as the court desires: By ordering counter-constitutional action, the courts frustrate the constitutional schemes of divided power and check and balances.
Indeed, each of the series of departures from constitutional funding and other provisions has been occasioned by court interference in legislative business. The courts are empowered to judge the constitutionality of legislative actions. The courts are not empowered to change the constitution to suit their desires.
The analysis notes a wide diversity of conditions in the various school districts. Attempts by an central power to juggle those various conditions in such a way as to even the effects therefrom are nothing more or less than attempted soviet-sytle central planning. Pursuing such pipe-dreams will do for us what it did for the soviets.
The courts, especially, should desist from such central-planning conceits. They are the least representative of the branches of government. In the case of Kansas courts in particular, they are the product of a laughably incestuous process wherein lawyers effectively choose the judges before whom they argue cases and the judges then struggle to appear impartial. Those participating in such a travesty are the last ones you want deciding matters of import.
Daniel Webster is credited with saying: "The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions." I add that so it was in Kansas until the courts set about unconstitutionally changing the Constitution.