Kline didn’t deserve law license

Former attorney general abused his authority

By The Mercury

Many of Phill Kline’s allies, especially Kansans who want to ban abortion, are convinced that a liberal establishment — in Kansas! — conspired to humiliate him.

“This is just another layer of icing on the Kansas Tiller/Sebelius late-term abortion corruption cake,” declared Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life. Her comments came after the Kansas Supreme Court suspended Mr. Kline’s law license indefinitely.

There’s not much point in reminding her that Dr. George Tiller, who provided late-term abortions, was shot and killed — in a church — by an anti-abortion fanatic and that Kathleen Sebelius hasn’t been governor for several years. Their “corruption cake” was one of many fantasies baked — or half-baked — by anti abortion zealots.

Mr. Kline, who was Kansas attorney general from 2003 to 2007 and Johnson County attorney when his term in Topeka ended, didn’t deserve to keep his law license. He dishonored it. Not because he was a committed abortion opponent. That’s hardly illegal. Rather, he dishonored his license and indeed all Kansans by abusing his authority in his crusade against legal abortion providers.

The Supreme Court agreed — unanimously — with a state disciplinary committee that found that in the course of his investigations, Mr. Kline repeatedly misled or allowed his subordinates to mislead others, including a Kansas City-area grand jury.

As a prosecutor in 2007, he filed more than 100 criminal charges against a suburban Kansas City Planned Parenthood clinic, accusing it of falsifying records and performing abortions. All the charges were dropped, the latest in August 2012.

The Supreme Court said Mr. Kline committed “significant and numerous” violations as attorney general and as Johnson County’s chief prosecutor.

Not surprisingly, Planned Parenthood wasn’t as sympathetic to Mr. Kline as was Kansans for Life. Peter Brownlie, president of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, called the Supreme Court’s decision vindication of Planned Parenthood’s contention that Mr. Kline’s pursuit of abortion providers was a “politically motivated witch hunt.”

“It should give persons in elected office or not pause about using such unethical tactics.”

Indeed it should. Mr. Kline is now a professor at Liberty University, a Lynchburg, Va., institution founded by Jerry Falwell. Mr. Kline served four terms in the Kansas Legislature before running for attorney general. He was criticized at the time for seeking the post despite not having worked as an attorney for some time and for having allowed his law license to expire.

Earning it back may prove more difficult this time.

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