Judges Ruling On Abortion Cases Made Anti-Choice Donations


At least two Kansas judges who heard and ruled against abortion providers also made political contributions to the state’s leading anti-abortion political action committee.

Judges Eric Yost and Jeffrey Goering each gave $100 to the Kansans for Life PAC in 2011 according to the group’s financial disclosure statement. In the mid 2000′s Yost was involved in the legal battle/crusade between former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline and the murdered Dr. George Tiller, an abortion provider who was assassinated while attending church. And in January 2001 Goering issued a temporary order prohibiting a Wichita doctor from using her office to perform abortions because her landlord believed it would create a nuisance.

Neither of the donations is considered improper under current Kansas laws and regulations, and both judges were quick to defend the donations.

However, unlike the Supreme Court, sitting state court judges are governed by a code of judicial ethics that prohibits any action that creates even the appearance of a conflict of interests. Most judges take that professionalism seriously and simply avoid donations to political organizations because of the inevitable appearance of bias those donations create.

Kansas law allows judges elected in partisan elections to make political donations. Yost, Goering and the other judges in Sedgwick County — as well as 13 other Kansas judicial districts — are chosen in partisan elections. Both Yost and Goering were unopposed as Republicans in their last elections in 2008. Their seats on the bench are up for election this year. Judges in 17 other Kansas jurisdictions, including Johnson County, are appointed to the bench and then face retention elections. The ethics code is silent on political contributions by “merit system” judges, which some experts say means donations might be proper for some judges in Kansas but not for others.

And not all Kansas Republicans are comfortable with the donations. State Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and an attorney, said he wants to examine the state’s rule for political contributions by judges. “It can’t be good for the judiciary because it reflects on their impartiality,” Vratil said.

Of course, challenging the extent of judicial political contributions is tricky since a 2002 Supreme Court decision overturning a Minnesota law prohibiting judicial candidates from speaking on some public issues, and as we all know by now, political speech includes donating money to political causes. So for now the issue of judicial impartiality will be under additional scrutiny with the only good answer to immediately push for extensive disclosures by donors and political organizations.

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Photo from infowidget via flickr.


SeattleAnn S.
Ann S6 years ago

It's very important to have these spokespeople for "justice" exposed by the media, otherwise, how would the American public who rely and trust these leaders in government know what they are really up to.

Lynn C.
Lynn C6 years ago

So much for objectivity!

MEGAN N6 years ago

But if these judges are required to step down then every pro choice judge would also have to step down. At least they are open about their beliefs so in the future an attorney will be able to request a new judge if he sees fit and will have a good argument to do it.

Patrick F.
Patrick f6 years ago

"Neither of the donations is considered improper under current Kansas laws and regulations, and both judges were quick to defend the donations."

Bullshit! Judges are required to be objective, these ones have a clear bias and should be disbarred.

Christy Elamma
Christy Elamma6 years ago

These judges should have recused themselves from these cases. They are obviously biased. I hope that their rulings are overturned because of it. Major conflict of interest. But then again, nothing has been done about Clarence Thomas, who is so in bed with big corporations, etc. that he cannot vote on anything without it being a conflict of interest. He never should have been appointed to the Supreme Court. Nothing but corruption in our entire political and judicial system

Joslynne Davidson

No ethics-this permeates the whole country.

Jeff Kline
Jeff Kline6 years ago

Many years ago when I was in college my girlfriend at the time told me she had an unwanted pregnancy from her previous boyfriend. Having a unplanned baby as a single woman at her age would probably have been a bad thing for her, and her baby. Planned Parenthood helped her to safely end her pregnancy, and she was able to get birth control pills to prevent further unplanned pregnancies. She stayed in school and got her degree, without any shame for her family or the stress of having a child out of wedlock. Women need and deserve the services offered by Planned Parenthood, including screening for cervical cancer. The extremest attacks on the reproductive health of women must stop!

Laurie Greenberg
Laurie Greenberg6 years ago

Well said, Lynne B.!

Tammy Birch
Tammy Birch6 years ago

100% pro-choice. No one should have the right to control another persons body and these judges are not being fair and unbiased. Any rulings they make should be thrown out, period.

MEGAN N6 years ago

As judges should be holding all their rulings up to a code of Deontological ethics and not teleological ethics there should be no problem. However I guess they have stopped teaching ethics in law school over the past few decades because judges and politicians on both sides have turned to "voting their conscious" rather than ruling to the letter of the law. I would assume that the only acceptable person to sit as judge would be one who had no political or moral leanings one way or the other. Sadly that would be a computer because humans are not to that point just yet. I will say however that on the other side would we be having this same conversation if the judge had ruled on gay marriage and then attended a gay pride parade or if they had instead donated to their planned parenthood in their city?