January 27, 2023

As we fight for civil liberties in Kansas, we often find ourselves at the crossroads of history—that’s where progress is made.

Next week is a double dose; on Monday we begin two major cases that have deep implications for what we allow from law enforcement and our criminal legal system.

First: we’re putting the death penalty on trial.

We’ll show how the death penalty is arbitrary, racially discriminatory, and unconstitutional.

On Monday, February 6, we begin our case in Wichita—alongside the ACLU Capital Punishment Project and Hogan Lovells US LLP—where we will present groundbreaking evidence that shows the death penalty in our state violates the state and federal constitution in three major ways:

  • The jury selection process, known as death qualification, systematically produces white-washed and biased capital juries more likely to convict. It's a violation of the fundamental right to a fair and impartial jury.
  • The death penalty has a long, cruel history of being arbitrary and discriminatory imposed—violating the prohibition on cruel or unusual punishment. Though the death penalty is rarely used in Kansas, those who have received it are often victims of racial bias and problematic counsel. You can learn more in the documents section here.
  • The death penalty doesn’t deter crime and is extremely costly. With growing concerns about innocence in the process, it's increasingly, fundamentally irrational for the state to have this ultimate power, especially since it fails to meet the standards of constitutional scrutiny.

The Kansas v. Young evidentiary hearing will start Monday morning and will go a few days at the Sedgwick County District Court. We hope you'll to show up to support us as we show the court how the Kansas death penalty is unconstitutional: RSVP here.

Second: It’s time to end Kansas Highway Patrol’s discriminatory practices.

Also on February 6, we begin our case in our suit against the Kansas Highway Patrol, who target motorists with out-of-state plates traveling to and from Colorado for traffic stops and routinely train officers to employ a technique known as the "Kansas Two-Step" to illegally detain and search drivers.

It's been nearly three years of logistical hold-ups since we first filed Shaw v. Jones—finally, our clients will have their claims heard by a jury.

The evidence speaks for itself: Kansas Highway Patrol has and continues to violate drivers' protections against unreasonable search and seizure.


These two cases are historic ones for Kansas.

Both the death penalty and Kansas Highway Patrol’s practices violate our rights—and are demonstrably racist in doing so.

If you wish to be part of this historic moment, please RSVP to the Young case in Wichita. We’re hoping to pack the court to show wide-ranging support for ending this racist practice in Kansas.

Our part in this movement can be arduous but also full of possibility—here’s to hoping next week isn’t just one big step forward, but rather two.