U.S. Supreme Court Declines To Review Former Kansas AG Phill Kline’s Suspension
This story was updated at 5:12 p.m. to include the comments of Kline's attorney.
Former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline’s bid to restore his law license appears to have come to the end of its long and winding road.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear his challenge to the Kansas Supreme Court’s indefinite suspension of his license four years ago.
In 2015, Kline sued the justices of the Kansas Supreme Court in federal court, saying they acted improperly because five of them had recused themselves when they suspended him and the court’s resulting composition was invalid.
U.S. District Judge Greg Kays tossed Kline’s lawsuit in November 2016, ruling that it presented a political question and therefore had to be dismissed. Kline appealed Kays’ decision to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, which upheld Kays in July.
Kline then asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the 10th Circuit’s decision, but the court denied his request without comment.
Kline, now an assistant law professor at Liberty University School of Law in Lynchburg, Virginia, could not be reached for comment. His attorney, Cincinnati lawyer Tom Condit, said that he continues to maintain that the Kansas Supreme Court's suspension was "a void judgment made by an unlawful, fractured and reconstituted Supreme Court."
"My position is Phill Kline still has his law license because an invalid court, a void judgment, doesn't do anything," Condit said. "It's void."
Condit said that he would nonetheless look at other avenues to pursue.
"He still has the right to apply for reinstatement of his law license," Condit said, adding that remains a point under discussion with his client.
"In a way I guess I'll say no comment. Because until he does something, I don't want to be making statements about what he intends."
Kline's troubles began in 2010 when the Kansas Disciplinary Administrator charged him with violations of the Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct in connection with his investigations of abortion providers.
A disciplinary panel later issued a 185-page report finding Kline had committed multiple violations of the rules. The Kansas Supreme Court ultimately found “clear and convincing evidence” that he had committed 11 violations and ordered the indefinite suspension of his license.
The court concluded that Kline had misled officials and a grand jury while serving as Kansas attorney general and later as Johnson County district attorney.
As attorney general, Kline, a fierce abortion opponent, filed misdemeanor charges against Dr. George Tiller, a late-term abortion provider who was subsequently shot and killed while attending church.
He also brought a 107-count indictment against Planned Parenthood for allegedly failing to report pregnancies of underage girls. That case was later dismissed by Kline’s successor, Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe.
Dan Margolies is a senior reporter and editor for KCUR. You can reach him on Twitter @DanMargolies.