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Kansas Senate says "no" to Court of Appeals selection reform

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The Judicial Update

February 24, 2012

Kansas: On Feb. 23, 2012, the Kansas Senate struck down a bill that would have given the Governor the power to appoint judges of the Court of Appeals directly. Currently, the nine-member Kansas Supreme Court Nominating Commission chooses the initial nominees. The Governor then makes the final appointment from among those nominees.[1]

Sen. Terry Bruce (R-Hutchinson) was in favor of a bill to bypass the nominating commission. He pointed out that five members of the nominating commission are chosen by the Kansas Bar Association. "The current system has been criticized for being anti-democratic," he stated.[2] On the opposing side, Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley (D-Topeka) argued, "This motion is an egregious effort to politicize judicial appointments. The judiciary as an independent and co-equal branch of government was designed to provide stability against the political winds."[2] Some, like Sen. Allen Schmidt (D-Hays) took the middle ground. He explained, "I personally would like to hear that whole process and hear the arguments and be involved in knowing where the best methods are. This needs more discussion."[2]

The same bill was approved by the House in 2011, but was blocked by a Senate committee. Bruce and other supporters moved to concur with the House bill, titled Senate Bill 83. The final vote was 17-22 against the motion.[2]


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