Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Kansas Legislature flirts with lynch-mob law, & yes, we're talking about George Tiller

By Diane Silver

If Operation Rescue and other anti-abortion groups have their way, you, me or anyone else could be charged with a crime if enough protestors show up at the Statehouse.

That appears to be what's happening with Operation Rescue's attempt to force Kansas Attorney General Paul Morrison to prosecute Wichita abortion-provider George Tiller.

A rally has been held in Topeka, and a resolution ordering Morrison to prosecute Tiller has flown out of the House Federal and State Affairs Committee -- hereafter known as the Great 2007 Bad Idea Committee. The proposal is awaiting approval by the full House.

Never mind that lawmakers haven't seen the evidence. Never mind that Morrison is investigating Tiller and hasn't announced yet whether he will prosecute. Never mind that the charges are misdemeanors. Never mind that the 1879 law legislators are using has only before been used to force the state to enter into lawsuits, and has never been used to force criminal charges against a named individual.


This is abortion politics (see Richard Crowson's great cartoon at The Wichita Eagle). The ultra conservatives who control Fed and State Affairs and the Kansas House wanna get that varmint Tiller. Period. Constitution be darned. Precedent be darned.

In an editorial today, my old newspaper The Wichita Eagle writes, quite wisely:
(Former Attorney General Phill) Kline (who first indicted Tiller) has a history of showing more ideological zeal than legal expertise. So Morrison needs to review this case to make sure crimes really were committed and that the charges could hold up in court.

And contrary to the claims of the protesters, this case is not a slam dunk. There is disagreement about what health exceptions are allowable under the state's abortion law.

In addition to accusing Morrison of being bought, some of the anti-abortion activists accused Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston of being corrupt after she objected on jurisdictional grounds when Kline filed charges against Tiller. And last week they challenged the integrity and independence of Sedgwick County District Court Judge Paul Clark, who ruled in Foulston's favor.

Do they think that any official who gets in their way is corrupt?

Actually, I have a terrible feeling that they do. Here's an interesting thought that was brought up by someone who commented on an earlier post. What if Morrison does indict Tiller? What if he's tried, and what if he's acquitted? What do the protestors do then? Lynch him?

Equally important is what these folks are doing to our judicial system. If the Kansas Legislature succeeds in forcing the attorney general to prosecute anyone -- whether that's Tiller or even Fred Phelps (wouldn't we all like to prosecute Fred for something?) -- then we are all in danger.

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