- Associated Press - Thursday, May 12, 2016

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas Supreme Court justices who have come under fire for recent decisions have begun delicately campaigning amid calls for their removal.

A day after the high court heard arguments in a school finance case, Justice Marla Luckert spoke Wednesday at the YWCA Network Lunch in Topeka, The Topeka Capital-Journal (http://bit.ly/1X4iptt ) reported. Luckert was careful to avoid details of cases, instead defending the need for a fair and impartial judiciary and stressing that she looks to the Constitution, not her personal opinion, when ruling.

In the school finance case, justices will soon decide whether legislation passed this spring provides equitable funding among schools. If the court says “no,” lawmakers may have to return this summer.

The case has angered lawmakers and brought calls for voters to toss out the justices, most of whom are up for retention votes on the November ballot. Justices can be removed if a majority of voters opt not to retain them; a Kansas justice has never failed to be retained.

But the justices have faced ire from conservatives over other issues aside from education, such as decisions related to the separation of church and state and abortion.

Mary Kay Culp, the director of the anti-abortion group Kansans for Life, said “it is not just our right, but our responsibility, to utilize the retention election process as the remedy” when the courts make “public policy.”

Luckert, acknowledging the fury sometimes directed at the justices, harkened back to the late 1960s and the unsuccessful movement to impeach U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren. The nation’s highest court issued numerous monumental decisions during his tenure, including Brown v. Board of Education.

“People often forget that Richard Nixon … said the court had gone too far in deciding these criminal procedure cases and that they needed to be reined in,” Luckert said. “So it’s not unfamiliar territory where we are today, but what we all have to remember is what President Eisenhower did say: Our personal opinions about the decision have no bearing, and he goes on to remind us the very basis of our individual rights and freedoms rests on the courts.”

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Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, http://www.cjonline.com

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