Phil Kline had been scheduled to appear at a disciplinary hearing pertaining to his investigations into alleged illegal activities by Planned Parenthood while serving as attorney general. In 2003, he began to investigate the abortion provider after becoming concerned that child sexual abuse was not being reported. He discovered that indeed large numbers of girls under the age of fourteen were obtaining abortions at Planned Parenthood locations throughout the state, and that over 100 cases were kept secret. He filed 107 charges against Planned Parenthood and 30 against late-term abortionist George Tiller.
However, after Kline leveled the charges against the notorious abortion providers, he himself became the subject of official investigation. Kline received sharp criticism from state employees and received much scrutiny after an ethics complaint was filed against him, accusing him of using his office to dig up dirt on abortionists. On the other hand, many pro-lifers nationwide began to rally around Kline, believing that he had good reason to investigate Planned Parenthood and others, and that the revelations he uncovered solidified his need to take immediate action.
Kline’s supporters state that one of the reasons he faced so much opposition while serving as attorney general was that the state was under the leadership of then Governor Kathleen Sebelius, who now serves as Barack Obama’s Secretary of Health and Human Services. Sebelius, who is known for her aggressive pro-abortion stance, was also surrounded by other Democratic, pro-choice government workers who backed her views. She is stated as creating a climate in the state to protect abortionists unconditionally.
As Kline’s disciplinary process lingered on, he was set to soon appear before the court. However, when Kline filed a strongly-worded motion rebuking two of the sitting judges and asking them to recuse themselves from the case, five of the seven on the panel announced that they did not wish to have any part in his hearing either.
One of the judges that Kline targeted was Justice Carol Beier, who was appointed by Sebelius. Kline stated in his motion that Beier was a “third wave feminist” with “deep-seated antagonism” who has released “caustic and deceptive opinions.” Beier had ruled against Kline in other opinions released by the court pertaining to his investigations, in order to block the charges leveled against Planned Parenthood. Many believe that Beier’s criticism of Kline was picked up by the media and further created an atmosphere of hostility against the former attorney general.
Kline also spoke out against Kansas Supreme Court Judge Judge Lawton Nuss regarding another matter unrelated to the investigation.
Only four days after his motion was submitted to the court, not only did Beier and Nuss recuse themselves from the case, but so did justices Lee Johnson, Marla Luckert and Eric Rosen — leaving only two judges standing. Replacements are now being found for the hearing, and will be chosen from the lower courts.
“The recusing Justices, after reading Mr. Kline’s motion, suddenly discovered that they had previously complained about Mr. Kline’s behavior, and thus should not hear the appeal. This fact was known to them when the appeal was filed last fall —over six months ago,” explained Kline’s attorney, Tom Condit. “The stated reasons [given by the judges pertaining to their recusal] are a smokescreen to divert public attention from the outrageous behavior detailed in the motion. Because public awareness of the facts presented in the motion would have a devastating effect on the Court’s reputation, the Justices quickly patched together an alternate rationale.”
“I’m very happy they’re off,” he added.
Former Chief Justice Kay McFarland also commented on the matter, stating, “I’m sure this is a first. … That’s five out of the seven. That’s quite a lot.”
Adding to the precedential departure is an alleged scandal that some are calling “Shreddergate.” Kathleen Sebelius associate Steve Six is being accused of unlawfully destroying documented evidence of cover-ups within Planned Parenthood, which could have substantiated a number of the charges that Kline pressed against the abortion provider.
Planned Parenthood still faces 58 charges to this day.