Former Kansas AG Sues Justices Who Suspended License After He Defended Abortion Laws

Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline answers questions during a debate at the Prairie Band Casino near Mayetta, Kan., Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2006.
AP/Orlin Wagner

The former attorney general of Kansas has filed a lawsuit against the state’s Supreme Court justices and others over the suspension of his law license in connection with his investigations of abortion providers.

The lawsuit is drawing attention to the potential collusive relationships among the judiciary, elected officials, and the abortion industry.

According to a complaint filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Kansas, the state Supreme Court’s suspension of former Kansas attorney general Phill Kline’s law license in October of 2013 was the result of his “legal and political adversaries” working together to attack him.

Kline was elected to his post as Kansas attorney general in 2002. After taking office, he began an investigation into possible failures by some medical providers to report child sexual abuse, an effort that gave him access to records from Kansas abortion centers and other mandated reporters in the state.

The complaint continues that Kline’s investigations discovered the state’s abortion centers were not filing mandatory sexual abuse of minors reports with the Kansas Department of Social Rehabilitation Services (SRS). Data he received from both SRS and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment showed that 166 abortions had been performed on children age 14 and under, including multiple late-term abortions. Yet, according to the information Kline gleaned, only four cases of child sexual abuse had been reported to SRS.

The history as provided in the complaint indicates Kline ultimately learned that two abortion facilities, Comprehensive Health Planned Parenthood of Overland Park (CHPP) and Women’s Health Care Services (WHCS), performed the majority of the abortions on the minors. Shawnee County Judge Richard Anderson opened an inquisition and found probable cause that crimes, including child rape and illegal late-term abortions, had been committed. Subsequently, the judge issued inquisition subpoenas to CHPP and WHCS.

The abortion centers, however, filed motions seeking protection from the Kansas Supreme Court, which Judge Anderson ultimately denied, says the complaint. In turn CHPP and WHCS invoked the privacy of the children as a reason why their medical records should not be turned over to the court. The state Supreme Court ruled the abortion centers must produce their records only if Judge Anderson decided Kline’s case was on “firm legal ground.” The judge made that determination fairly quickly, but the records redaction process pushed the case off for months and just weeks before Kline lost his re-election bid in 2006 to Johnson County District Attorney Paul Morrison who, according to Kline’s complaint, “waged a nasty and dishonest campaign fueled with pro-abortion propaganda and heavily financed with abortion money.”

“Among other things, Morrison’s campaign made false claims attacking Kline’s investigation of child sex abuse, accusing Kline of being a threat to women’s privacy and mishandling women’s medical records,” the complaint states. “Morrison also announced, without having seen the evidence, that he would not prosecute the [abortion] Centers if he won the election.”

The results of the 2006 election found the two men swapping offices: Morrison was elected as Kansas attorney general while Kline was appointed to his rival’s former post as Johnson County district attorney. In his new role, Kline continued his charges against CHPP – located in Johnson County – and also took with him his files that showed evidence of a criminal conspiracy between CHPP and WHCS to perform late-term abortions.

Ultimately, Morrison publicly announced he found no criminal wrongdoing by CHPP and sued Judge Anderson after he refused the attorney general’s request to release all documents produced previously by the case while Kline was investigating. Morrison then joined with CHPP in filing another action with the Kansas Supreme Court against Kline, demanding that all of his records in the case against CHPP be surrendered.

Meanwhile, according to the complaint, Johnson County Judge James Vano reviewed Kline’s documents and found probable cause to believe that CHPP had committed 107 criminal acts, including 23 felonies, charges that Kline filed in October of 2007.

Kline’s complaint argues the justices of the Kansas Supreme Court “were assuming an extraordinary role as Planned Parenthood’s discovery agent” in the case against him, “and in delaying or thwarting Kline’s prosecution.”

In 2008, the Kansas Supreme Court imposed a “sanction” against Kline “based on the provably false conclusion that Kline had ‘left no records behind’ for Attorney General Morrison and that Kline had thereby impeded Morrison from doing his job,” says the complaint. Kline was also ordered to provide Morrison with copies of records the new attorney general already had as well as any new evidence against CHPP Kline had discovered since assuming his new post as county district attorney.

“The only practical effect of the ‘remedy’ was to assist the target of the criminal investigation (CHPP) by allowing its political ally (Morrison) to obtain evidence relating to investigations by others in other states that was confidentially shared with Mr. Kline,” argues the complaint. “Morrison shared that evidence with the target of those investigations.”

The Kansas Supreme Court also indicated in its ruling that, “a copy of this opinion will be forwarded to the disciplinary administrator,” an action that ultimately led to the suspension of Kline’s law license.

Attorney Thomas W. Condit, who argued Kline’s disciplinary appeal in the Kansas Supreme Court in 2012, is also co-counsel for Kline in the federal action.

According to a press statement, Condit said, “This Kline saga has been a complete miscarriage of justice and an embarrassment to the Kansas judicial system.”

“Phill Kline was a highly well-respected Attorney General who has a great respect for the rule of law,” Condit said. “The idea that he ever attempted to lie or to mislead a court is preposterous. The panel of attorneys who heard Kline’s disciplinary case and the jurists who sat in violation of the Kansas Constitution to attack his law license should be ashamed of their own lawlessness and the objective falsehoods in their own decisions.”

He continued:

Mr. Kline set out to protect young girls from sexual abuse and to enforce the abortion laws passed by the people of Kansas. What he encountered was the tentacles of the abortion industry, apparently touching and corrupting everything in its way. This has been the worst abortion jurisprudence I have ever seen, and I have litigated pro-life cases for 26 years.  It can only be described by a four-letter word:  EVIL.

The lead local attorney for Kline, Dick Peckham, chairman of Kansas Judicial Review, said, “I am shocked by the facts of the Kline case. These egregious errors by the Court join a long line of cases demonstrating the need to change the process of selecting Kansas Supreme Court justices.”