News Releases

AG Schmidt defends Kansas laws in Supreme Court

TOPEKA – (March 18, 2013) – During an unusual one-month period, the State of Kansas has weighed in with the United States Supreme Court five times to defend Kansas laws in five cases that could imperil Kansas state law, Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced today.

The Attorney General’s Office, which represents the interests of the State of Kansas in the United States Supreme Court, frequently participates in cases either as a litigant or by filing a legal brief on questions before the Court. Five cases in a one-month period is an unusually rapid pace.

“None of these specific cases arose in Kansas, and the State of Kansas is not a party in any one of them,” Schmidt said. “But each of these cases raises a critical legal issue that, if decided adversely, could imperil the ability of Kansas to enforce certain state laws going forward. It’s important that our state’s voice and our legal position be heard by the Supreme Court during its consideration of these cases.”

The five cases are:

  • Maryland v. King. On February 26, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the constitutionality of states collecting DNA samples, by the use of oral swabs, from certain arrestees. The Kansas law providing for DNA collection from certain arrestees has helped solve numerous major crimes. Schmidt joined in a legal brief defending the practice.
  • Arizona v. Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona. On March 18, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the constitutionality of state laws that require voters to prove their U.S. citizenship at the time they register. Kansas is one of five states with such a law. Schmidt joined in a legal brief defending the authority of states to require such proof.
  • Dan’s City Used Cars v. Pelkey. On March 20, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments about whether federal law pre-empts state laws, including state consumer protection laws such as the Kansas Consumer Protection Act, from being applied to the activities of certain towing companies. Schmidt joined in a legal brief defending the authority of states to enforce their consumer protection laws.
  • Hollingsworth v. Perry. On March 26, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the constitutionality of state laws defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman only. The Kansas Constitution defines marriage in that manner. Schmidt joined in a legal brief defending the authority of states to enact and enforce traditional-marriage provisions like that in the Kansas Constitution.
  • U.S. v. Windsor. On March 27, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which provides that no state is required to recognize a same-sex marriage performed in another state. The Kansas Constitution defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman only, and Schmidt joined in a legal brief defending the authority of Kansas to enforce its constitutional provision and decline to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

“One of the critical roles of the Attorney General is defending the authority of Kansans to govern ourselves through the enactment and enforcement of our state laws,” Schmidt said. “I take that responsibility seriously, and this month we are being called upon to perform that task with unusual frequency in the nation’s highest court.”